Studies now link lack of sleep with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and difficulty controlling weight.

In addition, a lack of sleep boosts stress hormone levels, impairs the body's ability to process blood sugar, reduces levels of leptin (an appetite-depressing hormone) and increases inflammation-a factor in the development of heart disease.

In a long-term study of female nurses, the incidence of heart disease for those who slept less than five hours per night was almost double that of the nurses who slept seven to eight hours per night.

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