SLEEPING less than six and a half hours a night could hasten an early death, say scientists.
Workaholics who cut their hours in bed to five or even less have no idea how much damage they are doing to their health or their work, it was claimed.
A study by the American National Sleep Foundation - the world's premier centre for research on sleep - concludes that almost everyone really needs eight hours a night.
'People have no idea how important sleep is to their lives,' says Dr Thomas Roth, director of the foundation.
'Good health demands good sleep. Lack of sleep and sleep problems have serious, often life-threatening consequences.' The study shows that individuals who sleep fewer than six and a half hours a night die at younger ages than those who get a full eight hours.
Nevertheless, it found that 64 per cent of adults get less than eight hours, averaging just under seven hours a night, and 32 per cent sleep less than six hours.
The study by the Washington-based foundation has also found that a majority of ambitious young business executives think surviving on five or six hours a night is 'something to boast about'.
But, not only does lack of sleep weaken the immune system, leaving the body far more prone to illness - including a number of cancers - it also results in substandard work.
'Eight hours of sleep is still the gold standard,' says Lorraine Wearley, president of the foundation. …