Do you get at least six hours of sleep each night? No? Well, then you might—wait for it—never wake up.
Researchers at Warwick medical school published a study in the European Heart Journal that linked disrupted sleep patterns to major health problems. “If you sleep less than six hours a night and have disturbed sleep, you stand a 48 percent greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15 percent greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke,” said lead author Professor Francesco Cappuccio.
If you can really trust a sleep expert whose name is just one letter away from being a caffeinated drink, a 48 percent increase in heart disease risk is nothing to laugh at. If you’re consistently clocking in at under six hours, that’s a problem. Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Center says the key to a good night’s sleep is getting at least six hours of “core” sleep each night:
Core sleep gradually gives way to what I rather loosely call “optional” sleep, which maintains sleep until morning awakening. After about six hours of good sleep, all core sleep has usually disappeared.
Horne also says that each person’s sleep patterns differ—what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily healthy for another. He also notes that a couple nights of restless sleep here and there won’t up your chances for heart disease or a stroke.
So what does this mean for us grease-elbowed, nose-to-the-grindstone, 10-hours-a-day Americans?
Not much, actually. According to a study—which apparently surveyed every American I don’t know—from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American over the age of 15 sleeps 8.4 hours a day during the week and 9.3 hours on the weekend.