If you're a middle-aged adult with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or existing heart disease and you typically sleep less than six hours each night, you could be setting yourself up for cancer or an early death from heart disease.
That's the discomforting results of a study that sleep-tested 16,000 adults between the ages of 20 and 74 and then tracked their health for 20 years.
"This is now the fourth study, including ours, clearly indicating that sleeping less than six hours a day can actually lead to the development of artery disease and death related to cardiovascular disease," said renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai Heart in New York City. Fuster was not involved in the study, says CNN.
Sleep is critical to the body's rejuvenation. Deep sleep, the kind that comes only after a full cycle, is necessary for the body to release hormones designed to repair cells and build tissue in the body and brain.
The new study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found people with existing high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes who slept less than six hours were twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke.
That's particularly bad news when you consider that roughly 45% of Americans have either stage-2 high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes or both, said lead author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, a sleep psychologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania.