Study indicates less than six hours sleep can lead to “early death”

A new study of sleep patterns indicates that both too little sleep and too much sleep can cause potentially serious problems in the long term.

The research conducted by researchers in the UK and Italy culled data from sixteen studies across Asia, the US and Europe, spanning twenty-five years, 1.3 million people and 100,000 deaths. Results of the research indicate that people who sleep less than six hours a night were 12% more likely to die prematurely over the 25 year period than those who slept for 6-8 hours consistently. Researchers described the link between insufficient sleep and early death as “unequivocal.”

So, we should sleep more? Well, not exactly. The study’s results didn’t favor excessive amounts of sleep, either:

“Whilst short sleep may represent a cause of ill health, long sleep is believed to represent more an indicator of ill health,” said Professor Francesco Cappuccio, who led the study and is head of the Sleep, Health and Society programme at the University of Warwick.

“Modern society has seen a gradual reduction in the average amount of sleep people take, and this pattern is more common amongst full-time workers, suggesting that it may be due to societal pressures for longer working hours and more shift-work. On the other hand, the deterioration of our health status is often accompanied by an extension of our sleeping time.

The study ultimately pointed to an average sleep schedule of six to eight hours each night as “optimal for health.” The study also indicated that sleep deficit has been known to lead to more serious health problems such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues.