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Candace Smith


Researchers have warned of the perils of cutting down on sleep to
accommodate a 24/7 culture as a new study was published
suggesting such a move could almost double the risk of death.

Long-term research has shown those who reduced their sleep levels from
seven hours to five hours or fewer faced a 1.7-fold
increased risk in mortality and twice the increased risk of death from a
cardiovascular problem.

Those who increased their sleep to eight hours or more a night were also
more than twice as likely to die as those who had not
changed their habits, but from predominantly non-cardiovascular disease.

However, researchers said the increased risk for long sleepers might be
a symptom of impending health problems.

The study by the University of Warwick and University College London,
looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of
10,308 mainly white collar civil servants. The data provided information
on the same group at two points in their lives.

Once adjustments were made for factors such as age, smoking status and
illness, the study was able to isolate the effect that
changes in sleep patterns over five years had on mortality rates 11 to
17 years later.

Currently around one third of the UK adult population regularly sleep
five hours or fewer a night. The average night's sleep is
seven hours.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, of the University of Warwick medical
school, told the British Sleep Society: "Fewer hours
sleep and greater levels of sleep disturbance have become widespread in
industrialised societies.

"This change, largely the result of sleep curtailment to create more
time for leisure and shift-work, has meant that reports of
fatigue, tiredness and excessive daytime sleepiness are more common than
a few decades ago.

"Sleep represents the daily process of physiological restitution and
recovery, and lack of sleep has far-reaching effects."

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