According to new research, getting extra sleep on the weekend can undo the damage of failing to get enough during the week, ultimately helping you live longer. Best. News. Ever!
Most of us would love to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night every single day of the week. But life circumstances often get in the way of our beloved slumber — especially Monday through Friday. And while it’s not fun to walk around like a total zombie, not getting enough sleep can seriously impact your health and is linked to several major illnesses. A number of studies even maintain that it can actually cut years off your life expectancy.
For years sleep scientists have been advocating the importance of regular sleep patterns — negating the concept of making up for lost sleep on the weekends. However, a brand-new study is questioning that. Researchers from the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University claim the damage done from your lack of sleep during the week can be overturned just by getting some extra hours of shut-eye on Saturday and Sunday. As if you needed another excuse to sleep in on the weekend!
“The results imply that short (weekday) sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep,” the researchers, led by director of the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University Torbjorn Akerstedt, explained. Instead, it is the average amount of hours you get per week that make the most difference (according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need, on average, seven to nine hours of sleep a night — so 49 to 63 hours per week).
In the study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, data from more than 43,000 adults collected in Sweden in 1997 was analyzed, with researchers checking the national death register to monitor what happened to each of the subjects over the next 13 years. They learned that adults under age 65 who got a mere five hours or less of sleep per night were at a greater risk of early death than those who racked up six or seven hours. However, those who lacked sleep but made up for the slumber shortage on the weekends had no raised mortality risk compared to those who slept a steady six or seven hours every day of the week.
While getting enough sleep is important, don’t be confused: Researchers found that people getting too much sleep — eight hours or more every day — had a 25 percent higher mortality rate compared to those who average six or seven. This information is consistent with previous studies, which have found oversleeping may increase the chance of early death due to cardiovascular disease.
Still, many experts stress the importance of getting a regular, consistent six to seven hours of sleep per night. So if that’s doable, get your sleep on. But if it just isn’t possible — because, you know, life happens — make sure to use this study as an excuse to sleep in come Saturday!
What Do YOU Think?
How much sleep do you get during the week versus the weekend? What is your average amount of sleep per week? Will the findings of this study motivate you to change your sleep habits.