Getting less than six hours of sleep a night could double the risk of an early death for chronic disease sufferers, a new study has found.
Researchers from the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine sleep-tested 16,000 adults between the ages of 20 and 74 and tracked their health for 20 years.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. “Our study suggests that achieving normal sleep may be protective for some people with these health conditions and risks,” said lead author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Ph.D., associate professor at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine and sleep psychologist at the Sleep Research & Treatment Center of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Researchers analyzed data of more than 1,600 adults (20 to 74 years old, more than half women) from the Penn State Adult Cohort who were categorized into two groups as having stage 2 high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes and having heart disease or stroke.
The increased risk of early death for people with high blood pressure or diabetes was negligible if they slept for more than 6 hours. “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,” Fernandez-Mendoza said.
In this study, sleep duration was based on observing one night’s sleep, which may be affected by the first-night effect where participants sleep significantly worse the first night in a lab compared to other consecutive nights, which is the type of sleep study routinely used in clinical practices.