09/02/2011 04:56 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Too Many Late Nights May Be Bad For Your Heart

clock-midnight-lack-of-sleep Regularly staying up late could affect your heart. Photo: Getty

Only two weeks ago the Mental Health Foundation warned that two-thirds of people in this country suffer from some sort of sleep problem. And now Warwick University scientists are suggesting not getting enough sleep could lead to serious heath problems, including a higher risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Writing in the European Heart Journal, the scientists analysed evidence from a variety of studies involving more than 470,000 people. And their conclusions may have health implications for many people who - for one reason or another - burn the candle at both ends.

"If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48 greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke," says Professor Francesco Cappuccio, who co-wrote the report.

"The whole work-life balance struggle is causing too many of us to trade in precious sleeping time."

Getting too little sleep on a regular basis produces hormones and chemicals in the body, the scientists explain. And that increases your risk of developing not just heart disease and stroke, but also other health problems such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as diabetes and obesity.

The experts add that sleeping too much - that is, more than nine hours at a time - could also be a problem, as it may be a sign of an illness such as cardiovascular disease.

So what's the ideal amount of sleep? About seven hours a night, the researchers suggest.

How much sleep do you get?

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