The link between sleep deprivation and early death may run through your gut, Psychology Today reports.

Not getting enough sleep can take real amounts of time off your life. The link between sleep deprivation and mortality has been shown in a wide body of rigorous scientific research. Sleep is essential for survival. Studies in animals have demonstrated that going without any sleep will eventually be, over a period of days or weeks, lethal.

And studies in people have established the association between short sleeping and an increased risk of death. For example, a review of research published in the journal Sleep found an average of a 12 percent higher risk of dying among short sleepers. Short sleepers were people sleeping less than 7 hours a night—in many studies sleeping less than 5.

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