Failing to sleep less than six hours may nearly double the risk of death in people with metabolic syndrome – a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, researchers have warned. A study found that people with metabolic syndrome who slept for more than six hours were about 1.49 times more likely to die of stroke. Conversely, those who slept less than six hours were about 2.1 times more likely to die of heart disease or stroke. For those who got more sleep, the risk of death was more modest, the researchers said. The short sleepers with metabolic syndrome were also 1.99 times more likely to die from any cause compared to those without metabolic syndrome. “If you have several heart disease risk factors, taking care of your sleep and consulting with a clinician if you have insufficient sleep is important if you want to lower your risk of death from heart disease or stroke,” said lead author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. For the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the team selected 1,344 adults (average age 49 years, 42 per cent male) who agreed to spend one night in a sleep laboratory. The results showed that 39.2 per cent of the participants had at least three of the risk factors — body mass index (BMI) higher than 30 and elevated total cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and triglyceride levels. During an average follow-up of 16.6 years, 22 per cent of the participants died. “Future clinical trials are needed to determine whether lengthening sleep, in combination with lowering blood pressure and glucose, improves the prognosis of people with the metabolic syndrome,” Fernandez-Mendoza said.