People who sleep for less than six hours a night could double their risk of developing heart disease, a study has found.
Scientists found that a lack of sleep significantly increased the chance of high cholesterol, increased blood pressure and obesity.
This set of symptoms — known as the metabolic syndrome — also makes it difficult for people to regulate their sugar levels leading to the onset of diabetes.
The study of 1,214 adults between 30 and 54 also found that those who sleep too long can also develop similar symptoms.
Experts found that those who slept between seven and eight hours a night were 45 per cent less likely to suffer from these problems than those that slept too little or too long.
This week, scientists reported that death rates from heart disease in younger woman may be on the rise after dropping steadily for decades.
Heart disease kills 105,0000 people in Britain each year and 2.6 million people are known to be living with the condition.
Smoking, over eating and a lack of exercise are factors normally associated with onset of metabolic syndrome.
But research carried out by a team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine also found that the symptoms associated with heart disease could be affected by sleep duration.
Martica Hall, an associate professor of psychiatry at the university, said: “This relationship was strongest in the group of men and women who slept less than six hours per night.
“On average, the odds of having the metabolic syndrome were nearly doubled in men and women who slept less than six hours, compared to those who slept between seven and eight hours per night.”
A separate research by a group of scientists at Warwick Medical School in Coventry also found compelling evidence that the lack of sleep increases the likelihood of being obese.
They reviewed 39 studies on the link between obesity and the lack of sleep in 30,000 children and 600,000 adults.
This link was found all 28 studies of adults and seven of the 11 studies involving children.
They found that sleep deprivation affects the balance of hormones that control appetite and the feeling of fullness after a meal.
Both studies were published yesterday in the journal ‘Sleep’.