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A new study found how less than six hours of sleep a night can increase the risk for metabolic syndrome.

A new study found how less than six hours of sleep a night can increase the risk for metabolic syndrome.

If you're sleeping less than six hours a night, you could be at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. According to a study recently published by the journal Sleep Medicine, insufficient sleep can raise the possibility of developing metabolic syndrome, a grouping of several conditions related to obesity and heart health, that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

To find the connection between poor sleep and metabolic syndrome, the Korean research team behind the study drew information from two lifestyle surveys conducted between 2005 and 2011. Over a period of two years, they examined the lifestyle habits and medical history of the 2,600 participating adults and found some pretty shocking results. According to their findings, 22 percent of the participants who slept less than six hours a night developed metabolic syndrome. They also calculated that sleeping less than six hours a night heightened the possibility of high blood sugar by 30 percent, and the risk of hypertension by 56 percent.

According to a Newsweek interview with Kristen Knutson, a sleep researcher at the University of Chicago, this study reaffirms some pre-existent hypotheses that linked sleep with cardiovascular health, but also presents new information: as a prospective survey, the study shows how sleep is connected not only to symptoms of metabolic syndrome but actually to the development of it.

"This is important because the sleep duration was measured before the people had the disease," Knutson explained.

Though further research is required to determine how other factors such as sleep quality play into the link between sleep and metabolic syndrome, Knutson told Newsweek that anyone who is concerned about how sleep is affecting their health can, and should, make more time for rest. Proper sleep, she said, is a crucial part of any healthy lifestyle.

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