Researchers from Sweden have found that sleeping in on days off could help you live a longer life. For those of us who live very busy lives and don’t get a lot of sleep, this is good news!
The study published at the end of May in the Journal of Sleep Research “focused on the impact of ‘weekend sleeping’ — or, simply, sleeping on days off — and concluded that a little extra snoozing on days off can possibly make up for lost sleep on the weekdays.”1
Led by Torbjörn Åkerstedt, director of the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University, the team tracked more than 43,000 people over a 13-year time frame and found:2
- individuals younger than 65 who slept for fewer than 5 hours per night the entire week faced a 52% higher mortality rate
- individuals who slept for fewer than the recommended 7 hours per night on weekdays, but slept for an extra hour or two on weekends, lived just as long as folks who sleep 7 hours a night the whole week
The study summary says,
“The mortality rate among participants with short sleep during weekdays, but long sleep during weekends, did not differ from the rate of the reference group. Among individuals ≥65 years old, no association between weekend sleep or weekday/weekend sleep durations and mortality was observed. In conclusion, short, but not long, weekend sleep was associated with an increased mortality in subjects <65 years. In the same age group, short sleep (or long sleep) on both weekdays and weekend showed increased mortality. Possibly, long weekend sleep may compensate for short weekday sleep.”3
Amazing. However, that doesn’t mean you should purposely burn the candle at both ends or allow yourself to miss regular sleep, on a regular basis. Sleep is incredibly important.
An epidemiologist who spoke with The Washington Post described the result as “statistically robust one that deserves more investigation”4 and said that sleep is not like a financial transaction; we can’t deposit hours of shut-eye over the weekend and expect to cash them out later. While getting extra sleep is better than missing it altogether, some amount of damage is already done.