If you are not getting the requisite hours of sleep over a long period of time, there is every chance that you are involuntarily reducing your own life, says a new study which revealed that men with insomnia or shorter sleep were more likely to die over a period of 14 years.

"Insomnia has potentially very severe side effects," says sleep researcher Edward Bixler who has co-authored the study. While ladies may be suffering the same fate, the research team said they had only followed females for 10 years during which time no significant difference was seen in their mortality rates.

Reiterating that the syndrome needs to be treated, the study team suggested additional research to find out better treatments for both insomnia and short sleeping spells. Earlier research had studied the effects of lack of sleep on life while the latest research actually also provides information about the perception over quality of sleep among people.

The study, which was published in the medical journal Sleep, began with the recruitment of 1,700 people from central Pennsylvania who were followed for 14 years after having initially answered questions about their sleeping habits and then spending a night at a sleep lab. The group had men aged over 50 and women above 47 years of age.

It was found that more than one-fifth of the men who were part of the study group died during the period while five percent of the women also died. The difference in the rates could be a result of the higher average life span among women too, says Bixler, a professor of psychiatry at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

The team further found that the males who admitted to insomnia slept fewer than six hours were at a higher risk while nine percent of those who claimed to be "good sleepers" also died during the study period. In the entire group, eight percent of women and four percent of men admitted to insomnia and had trouble getting to sleep inside the laboratory.

Researchers believe that sleeplessness could contribute to clogged arteries or disrupt the immune system. However, the study does not prove definitively that poor sleep will directly cause a man's death earlier.