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Published On: Wed, Jun 6th, 2018

Sleep More this Weekend, It May Prolong Your Life

Science has found a long time ago connections and positive correlations between insufficient sleep and health problems, mental illness, and shorter lifespans. The less you sleep on a weekly basis, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, anxiety and depression, weight problems, and more.

If you are the type of person that clocks in under five hours a night, there is hope for you yet. A recent Swedish study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, suggests that sleeping in more during the weekend to compensate your lack of sleep during weekdays may prolong your life.

photo/ Ron F

According to co-author Torbjörn Åkerstedt, of the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet tells Global News, sleeping in in the weekend lowers the mortality risk in adults under 65 years old.

The message of the study is simple: shut off your phone, close those blinders, keep pets away from your bedroom, and tuck comfortably in your amazing mattress and soft pillows to get some more hours of sleep this weekend.

The idea of the study came from the realization that sleep researchers focused for years on what happens to people when they do not get enough sleep during weekdays, but few have looked at what happens when we try to compensate the lack of sleep in our free days.

Researchers admitted the results took them by surprise: if you sleep too little you have a higher mortality risk, while if you sleep too much, you also have a higher mortality risk. Popular knowledge teaches us that the more we sleep the healthier we are, but these preliminary findings seem to contradict this common belief.

The Swedish researchers found that subjects who regularly slept about five hours or less a night, including on weekends, saw a higher mortality rate. In addition, the subjects who slept eight hours or more each night – including the weekend –, also showed a higher risk of mortality.

The twist in the story comes from short sleepers – the ones clocking in five hours or less every weekday – who compensate significantly during weekends by sleeping seven-eight hours a night. The conclusion, at a first glance, brings everyone some silver lining: we can work hard and play hard during the week and we will still be able to enjoy a healthy, satisfactory life if we sleep in the weekends.

We have to keep in mind that this rule applies to people under 65 who do not suffer from chronic or life-threatening medical conditions. We also have to keep in mind that these findings are not conclusive and we cannot extrapolate them to larger populations.

Just as author Torbjörn Åkerstedt says, the seven hours sleep period may not work for everybody. Some people need less sleep to function perfectly, while others need a lot more. In the words of the scientist, “if you can function on what you get, you are likely getting the right amount of sleep.”

According to Michael Grandner, the director of the Sleep and Health Research Program, we can compensate the weekdays lack of sleep only if the difference in hours is not high. If you sleep for about 6 hours on a workday and 7 to 8 in weekend, you are likely to enjoy the benefits of sleeping in. However, if you sleep only for four or five hours daily and try to make up for the lost sleep in the weekend, chances are you will not be able to recover.

It is like dieting, Grandner said for the CNN: “if you eat crap all week, no amount of Brussels sprouts or kale that you eat on the weekends can make up for that.”

Åkerstedt admits such research needs extensive follow-up and replication, as it is just a drop in an ocean of confounded variables. However, he believes his findings can give people something to keep their hopes up.

Author: Mary Anne Linde
Bio: Mary Anne embraced freelancing 5 years ago, when she quit her day job and dedicated all her energy to writing. In 2013 she was working as a sales rep for a huge retailer and was only taking side hustles in her free time. She made the switch to full-time freelancing and is now using her knowledge to create compelling content for ecommerce stores and product reviews. Mary also manages BestMattressReport, a resource blog that reviews the best mattresses and sleeping accessories on the market.

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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