According to new research middle-aged adults with certain health conditions greatly increase their risk of early death if they regularly get less than six hours of sleep each night.

The health conditions include high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The deadly combination also increases the possibility of contracting cancer.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the open access journal of the American Heart Association on October 2, 2019.

“Our study suggests that achieving normal sleep may be protective for some people with these health conditions and risks,” said lead study author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Ph.D., associate professor at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine.

Study details

For the study Fernandez-Mendoza and his associates analyzed data of more than 1,600 adults from the Penn State Adult Cohort. Participants were categorized into two groups as having stage 2 high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes and having heart disease or stroke.

Participants were studied in the sleep laboratory (1991-1998) for one night and then researchers tracked their cause of death up to the end of 2016.

Researchers discovered:

  • Of the 512 people who passed away, one-third died of heart disease or stroke and one-fourth died due to cancer.
  • People who had high blood pressure or diabetes and slept less than 6 hours had twice the increased risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.
  • People who had heart disease or stroke and slept less than 6 hours had three times the increased risk of dying from cancer.
  • The increased risk of early death for people with high blood pressure or diabetes was negligible if they slept for more than 6 hours.

Based on these results Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, who is also a sleep psychologist, noted that sleep analysis may be included more broadly in future healthcare:

“Short sleep duration should be included as a useful risk factor to predict the long-term outcomes of people with these health conditions and as a target of primary and specialized clinical practices.

“I’d like to see policy changes so that sleep consultations and sleep studies become a more integral part of our healthcare systems. Better identification of people with specific sleep issues would potentially lead to improved prevention, more complete treatment approaches, better long-term outcomes and less healthcare usage.”

Statistics paint a dismal picture

According to the American Heart Association, roughly 45% of the United States population has stage 2 high blood pressure and/or Type 2 diabetes, while another 14% have heart disease or stroke.

 When it comes to sleep statistics, the news is just as dismal. A recent study published by the journal Sleep reported that one-third of Americans were getting less than six hours sleep each night.

With troubling stats on both ends—existing health issues AND inadequate sleep—it is clear that a substantial number of Americans are at high risk, and should devote more attention to restoring healthy sleep patterns.

Options do exist. One example is Optimal REM Sleep from Optimal Health Systems.

Rather than helping you fall asleep for a single night—and leaving your body to cope with a number of side effects—REM Sleep provides the nutrients you need to achieve restive quality sleep over the long-term. Learn more here.

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Article Sources: Heart.org (American Heart Association); Sleep, Feb. 2019; Science Daily.