A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that middle-aged adults with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or history of stroke could be at high risk for early death if they sleep less than six hours per night. The study included 1,654 adults ages 20 to 74 years who were part of the Penn State Adult Cohort. Sleep duration was determined by sleep studies conducted in a laboratory setting. Over the course of 19 years, 512 participants died. People who had high blood pressure or diabetes and slept less than six hours had twice the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke and three times the risk of dying from cancer as those who slept more than six hours. While this observational design does not prove cause-and-effect, shorter term experiments highlight several potential harms of inadequate sleep.
The authors recommend better identification and treatment of sleep disturbances, which they suggest could lead to improved prevention and outcomes.