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The Health Dangers of Lack of Sleep

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You probably think you can make up for lack of sleep with a cup of coffee in the morning. However, according to researchers, this isn’t the best assumption to make. In fact, people who get less than six hours of sleep per night have a higher risk of dying prematurely according to the results of a recent study.

The study, conducted with the Frederico II University in Naples, aggregated data from various decade-long studies conducted around the world. Overall, all of the studies put together involved 1.3 million people. After analyzing the previous studies, the researchers found that there was an “unequivocal direct link” between lack of sleep and premature death.

Francesco Cappuccio, the lead researcher, believes that duration of sleep is a public health issue attributable to societal norms that push us to work longer days and nights. To combat the problem, Cappuccio suggests that doctors consider lack of sleep a behavioral risk factor. He also notes that 20% of full-time workers in the U.S. and Britain sleep less than 5 hours a night.

Another recent study also found additional devastating effects of lack of sleep. The study, conducted by the Center for Child Health, included 723 adolescents and analyzed sleep habits, BMI, depression risk, socioeconomic background, average daily activity as well as other factors. Overall, the researchers found a strong correlation between lack of sleep—less than 8.5 to 9 hours for adolescents—and higher rates of obesity in teenage boys. Other recent studies have discovered a link between lack of sleep and diabetes.

The message: think twice before skimping on sleep.