Getting less than six hours sleep a night increases risk of early death

Not sleeping releases hormones that increase stress levels, speed up the heart rate and raise blood pressure

Over a third of the population are getting less than six hours sleep a night raising their risk of an early death by 12 per cent.

This lack of sleep could lead to a range of health problems the council have warned including diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

“Lack of sleep is a growing problem,” Lisa Artis of the British Sleep Council said. “Firstly people don’t place enough importance on sleep and the health benefits being well-rested can have.”

“Secondly, unlike a lot of well understood life changes such as eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, sleep isn’t really on the agenda.”

She added: “Unlike diet sleep is a hard thing to regiment and a whole number of factors such as having small children, having other health issues and environmental factors can all disturb sleep patterns.”

Not sleeping releases hormones that increase stress levels and in turn speed up the heart rate and raise blood pressure sparking a host of health issues.

Research suggests that routinely getting less than six hours sleep a night can impact attention, concentration and memory and is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, Public Health England is encouraging people to sleep more in a government campaign to help people live healthier life styles.

Focusing on middle-aged people the new campaign will ask people to make seven lifestyle changes including stopping smoking, drinking less, exercising more and improving sleep.

Describing the new campaign Public Health England said in a document released last month: “Only around 20-30 per cent of what we think of as “ageing” is biological; the rest is “decay” or “deterioration”, which can be actively managed or prevented.”

“The years between ages 40 and 60 are thus a unique but neglected opportunity for intervention.”

Artis said: “It’s a myth that older people need less sleep. Middle-aged people need the same amount of sleep, even if they don’t get it in one big block like people in their 20s and 30s. It may mean that people catch up on their sleep with an afternoon nap.”

A recent study by scientists at Surrey University discovered that over 700 of the bodies genes are altered when someone regularly gets less than six hours of sleep a night. This could possibly explain why lack of sleep is connected to a range of health problems, the Sunday Times reported. 

Further research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2013 revealed how seven or more hours of sleep a night helped enhance a healthy lifestyle.

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