You probably know by now that I'm a big believer in the power of sleep.

But the quality of sleep is just as important as the amount. In fact, bad sleep is worse than no sleep – because it may be killing you.

A new study finds that people who suffer from severe sleep apnea are 46 percent more likely to die early. Men between the ages of 40 and 70 were most at risk and are twice as likely to die from sleep apnea, according to the study published in PLoS Medicine.

This condition has been linked with plenty of other ailments, including heart failure and stroke. But this study, which followed 6,400 men and women over eight years, is the first to really make the connection between sleep apnea and an early encounter with the mortician.

Since heavy snoring is one of the symptoms, many of these people have heard the complaints from their spouses (and more than a few have probably been banished to the sofa).

If that sounds like you, do yourself a favor and find out if you're suffering from sleep apnea. There are treatments, although most people will find that losing some weight helps best. Others might need a minor surgical procedure — but that's always a last resort.

The bottom line is you need to find a way to sleep better – so you can live longer, too.