It's common knowledge that sleep is critical. But a lack of sleep can do more than just leave you drowsy and irritable.
A new University of Alabama study linked lack of sleep to stroke, obesity, diabetes, anxiety and depression, as well as the country's number one killers: heart disease and cancer.
"Sleep is universal to us all," Megan Ruiter, the study's lead author and a post-doctorate fellow in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Division of Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine, stressed. "Sleep is very valuable. It's not something to be forgotten or trifled with."
"We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone," she said.
Health experts say you should aim to get seven and a half hours of sleep a night.
They recommend several things you can do to ensure a good night's sleep, including avoiding exercising or eating a big meal within three hours of bedtime and staying away from caffeine.