AARP Eye Center
For years, we’ve been told getting enough sleep will help us stay healthy, sharper and more positive in our outlook. Now, new research suggests it may be a matter of life and death for one group: middle-aged adults with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
Folks with any of these health problems who clocked less than six hours a night had twice the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke over three decades compared with those who got more than six hours. Short-sleepers who already had a history of heart disease or stroke fared even worse: They had nearly three times the increased risk of dying from cancer.
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“Getting enough sleep is important for everybody, obviously, but it’s particularly important for those who already have heart disease or diabetes,” says lead study author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, associate professor at Penn State College of Medicine and a sleep psychologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
What the study found
The study looked at more than 1,600 adults between the ages of 20 and 74, with a median age of 47, who were divided into three groups: those with stage 2 high blood pressure (blood pressure over 140/90) or type 2 diabetes, those who already had heart disease or had had a stroke, and those without any of these conditions. Patients were studied in a sleep lab for one night between 1991 and 1998, then tracked through 2016. During that time period, there were 512 deaths, a third from heart disease or stroke and a quarter from cancer.