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Sleep deprivation ‘ticking time bomb’

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Sleep deprivation ‘ticking time bomb’

Commenting on a warning by researchers at Warwick University that the growing trend for late nights and early mornings in industrialised economies is a ‘ticking time bomb’ for individual health in the future,the National Institute for Clinical Research into Stress at Oxford University Begbroke said this was entirely consistent with what patients and employers were saying to their clinicians. 

According to the study, based on 470,000 participants in 7 countries, including the UK, Japan and Sweden, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a number of disorders such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, all of which have the potential to substantially reduce life expectancy.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, co-author of the report, told the Guardian: “If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke.”

The research found evidence of a link between chronic sleep shortage and an increase in hormones and chemicals in the body responsible for enhancing the risk of heart disease and stroke.  A representative from the British Heart Foundation, a senior cardiac nurse, pointed out in the Guardian that whilst it is not yet fully understood, there does appear to be a link between heart and circulatory disease and lack of sleep, and advised people to “make sleep a priority” by achieving a “restorative six-eight hours a night”.

The sleep trade off is blamed on a culture of longer working hours, the desire to fit as much into leisure time as possible, and the struggle to maintain a balance between the two in modern society.  According to Professor Cappaccio, “the whole work/life balance struggle is causing too many of us to trade in precious sleeping time to ensure we complete all the jobs we believe are expected of us.”

It seems that we should all be getting more sleep if we are to live longer, but no more than 9 hours a night which may indicate other health problems in an individual if achieved regularly over a long period of time.  Professor Cappaccio told the Guardian: “By ensuring you have about seven hours’ sleep a night, you are protecting your future health, and reducing the risk of developing chronic illnesses.  The link is clear from our research: get the sleep you need to stay healthy and live longer.”