Research carried out by the University of Warwick in England, in collaboration with the Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy, has found that people who sleep for less than 6 hours each night were 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who get the recommended 6 to 8 hours.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, provides unequivocal evidence of the direct link between short duration of sleep (less than 6 hours sleep a night) and an increased chance of dying prematurely.

The research also notes that consistent overlong sleeping (more than 9 hours a night) can be a cause for concern. While, unlike short sleeping, overlong sleeping does not in itself increase the risk of death, it can be a significant marker of an underlying serious and potentially fatal illness.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, leader of the Sleep, Health and Society Program at the University of Warwick and Consultant Physician at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said, “Consistently sleeping 6 to 8 hours per night may be optimal for health. The duration of sleep should be regarded as an additional behavioral risk factor, or risk marker, influenced by the environment and possibly amenable to change through both education and counseling as well as through measures of public health aimed at favorable modifications of the physical and working environments.”