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Sleeping in on weekends may extend your life, new study finds

29 May 2018

Now, a new study suggests a solution: You can actually "catch up" on the health benefits of sleep you missed during the week over the weekend.

The authors from Stockholm's Karolinska Institute tracked the sleep of more than 43,000 people for 13 years from 1997. The latest study, published last week in the Journal of Sleep Research, address the association of both weekday and weekend sleep duration with overall mortality.

When, instead, different combinations of weekday and weekend sleep durations were analysed, we observed a detrimental association with consistently sleeping ≤5 hr (hazard ratios 1.65; 95% confidence intervals 1.22-2.23) or ≥8 hr (hazard ratios 1.25; 95% confidence intervals 1.05-1.50), compared with consistently sleeping 6-7 hr per day (reference). This study was not an experiment, Akerstedt emphasized, and these data can not show that short or long sleep is responsible for higher mortality.

"This is in effect an argument for lazing around all weekend".

Not in the new study.

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But weekend snoozers lived just as long as the well-slept. Lack of sleep can have dire consequences for your health. We can't deposit zzzs over the weekend and expect to cash them out later. For the sleep-deprived, sleeping in on a weekend is like eating a salad after a series of hamburger dinners - healthier, sure, but from "one perspective the damage is done".

Interestingly, people who slept too much, regularly hitting the hay for eight hours or longer a night, also had a worse mortality rate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults aged 18-60 get at least seven hours of sleep per night.

Self-reporting may be considered a limitation of the study, but researchers note it's a practical way to accumulate large-scale data.

"I think people like the idea that you can compensate for lost sleep", Åkerstedt said. "It's a fuzzy picture that's true", he said.

Sleeping in on weekends may extend your life, new study finds