If you burn the candle at both ends all week then binge on sleep on the weekend, here is some good news. According to a new study, sleeping in on the weekend can compensate for the sleep you lose mid-week, and it may help you live longer.
A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research compared the weekday and weekend sleeping habits of 38,000 people under the age of 65 in Sweden for 13 years. Previous sleep studies have shown sleeping for less than eight hours on an average night can increase your risk of chronic health conditions including stroke, heart attack, obesity, diabetes, dementia, depression and anxiety.
But the latest study compared how long people slept on workdays compared to days off rather than how long they sleep on average. It found that short sleepers (people who slept for five hours or less every night all week), had a shorter life expectancy than people who always sleep seven hours a night. Interestingly, long-sleepers (people who slept nine or more hours every night) had also had a shorter life expectancy.
However, people who slept less than seven hours on weekdays and slept a few hours longer on the weekends to make up for it, appeared to reduce their mortality risk. In fact, they lived just as long as the people who consistently slept seven hours, according to the study led by Swedish psychologist Torbjorn Akerstedt, director of the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University.
“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 study reported. “This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality.”
Akerstedt said over sleeping was probably not the cause of increased mortality but probably a sign that something else is wrong.
However, it’s worth noting the study only compared mortality rates. It did not compare short term memory, learning, moods, appetite regulation, decision-making and productivity which are just some of the many things proven to suffer when we are sleep deprived.
A 2017 report titled Asleep on the Job: Costs of Inadequate Sleep in Australia commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation estimated that inadequate sleep cost Australia $66.3 billion in 2016-17. The estimate breakdown included $17.9 billion ($2,418 per person) for lost productivity and $1.8 billion ($246 per person) for costs to the health system. Lack of sleep is also estimated to account for 23 per cent of total road accidents.
Most adults need about eight hours a night and maintaining good sleep hygiene habits can help improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
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