The risk of developing heart disease can increase by as much as 48% if a person does not get enough sleep, University of Warwick scientists say.
A long period of sleep shortage increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to scientists.
They found most people need between six and eight hours of sleep a night to protect their health.
Professor Cappuccio and co-author Dr Michelle Miller, from the University of Warwick, conducted the research.
They said they followed up evidence from periods of seven to 25 years from more than 470,000 participants from eight countries including Japan, the USA, Sweden and the UK.
Professor Cappuccio said: "If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke.
"The trend for late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health so you need to act now to reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.
"There is an expectation in today's society to fit more into our lives. The whole work/life balance struggle is causing too many of us to trade in precious sleeping time to ensure we complete all the jobs we believe are expected of us."
Dr Miller added: "Chronic short sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body which increase the risk of developing heart disease and strokes, and other conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and obesity."
Professor Cappuccio also warned that getting too much sleep - of more than nine hours at a stretch - may be an indicator of illness, including cardiovascular disease.