In a new study, researchers found that middle-aged men who sleep five hours or less at night have twice the risk of developing a heart attack or a stroke compared with men who sleep seven to eight hours.
The finding shows that short sleep could be linked to future heart disease and that busy people should spend more time sleeping.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
In the study, the team examined almost eight hundred 50-year-old men.
These participants underwent a physical examination and completed a questionnaire on their current health conditions, average sleep duration, physical activity, and smoking.
The men were divided into four groups according to their self-estimated average sleep duration: five or fewer hours, six hours, seven to eight hours, and more than eight hours.
They were followed-up for 21 years for the occurrence of heart attack, stroke, hospitalization due to heart failure, coronary heart disease, or death from these diseases.
The team found that in men who slept five or fewer hours per night, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, low physical activity, and poor sleep quality were more common.
In addition, compared to those with normal sleep duration (7-8 hours), men who slept five or fewer hours had a 100% higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke by age 71.
The team explains that the magnitude of increased heart risk linked to insufficient sleep is similar to that of smoking or having diabetes at age 50.
They suggest people sleep seven to eight hours to protect their heart health.
Future work will directly test if short sleep causes heart disease, or say definitively that sleeping more will reduce risk.
One author of the study is Ms. Moa Bengtsson.
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