Is your lack of sleep killing you?

Dr. Jennifer Ashton appears live on "GMA" to discuss a new study that looks at the link between sleep and heart health.
2:56 | 05/25/17

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Transcript for Is your lack of sleep killing you?
We are back now with that new health alert about sleep and heart disease. A new study from Stanford university says sleeping less than six hours a night could double the risk of dying from heart problems if you're already at risk for heart disease. Our senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton is here. Okay. Not good, right? Let me tell you about it. It appeared in the journal of the American heart association and looked at three variables. Metabolic syndrome, short sleep duration and then the risk of death from heart attack strokes and all causes. People who had metabolic syndrome already at risk if they slept less than six hours they had an increased risk of death, it doubled. So, again, these factors seem to be synergistically related. Metabolic syndrome. More people have it than they know. They know. But they don't know what it is. Exactly. This is so important, it is basically a constellation of symptoms. Take a look at these risk factors including obesity, high cholesterol, including high triglycerides, insulin resistance if you're called prediabetic and high blood pressure. Greater than 130r 85. The estimates are that 35 to 40% of the U.S. Population has this. It's less well documented than other conditions but it's the most easy to modify so this is a wake-up call, be aggressive about diagnosing this, treating it and managing metabolic syndrome because it ups your risk of heart disease in we should look at sleep, talk about nutrition and exercise. Sleep should be considered right along with that in no question. I think sleep has a massive pr problem in this country. We look at it as a luxury. It's a necessity. It doesn't make you lazy if you prioritize sleep, in fact as you said it has to be on the same level as good nutrition and good diet. You know, working, a lot of people -- We're in trouble. Exactly. But just in general people working so many different ways and think they can make up your sleep. Here's the bad news. Don't shoot the messenger. You can't make up for your sleep on the weekends. If you get four hours during the week and say I'll leap 10 or 12 during the weekend that's not the same thing. Here's what I recommend, most adults need seven to nine hours every night. So take your wake-up time, back up the clock to seven hours and shut it down so you get that. Best sleep environment is one that's cold and dark. You want to avoid caffeine and alcohol around two hours before you go to bed and if you have really disrupted sleep or you're not feeling good in the morning, you really should see a physician or a sleep medicine specialist and consider a sleep study to rule out something like sleep apnea. Raise your hand if you're able to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. I have no social life so I go to sleep. You see people want to. But you just -- The problem is we consider it to be a luxury. It is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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