If you hit snooze at the weekend or don’t bother setting an alarm at all, there is now absolutely no reason to feel guilty.
New research suggests adults under the age of 65 who get five hours of shut-eye per night or less have a higher risk of death compared to those who consistently get six or seven hours of sleep per night.
But the good news is having a weekend lie-in seems to counteract these detrimental effects. In fact, the study, based on data of more than 43,000 adults, found those who tend to catch up on sleep at the weekend had no raised mortality risk compared with those who consistently get to bed early during the week.
The study, by Stockholm University’s Stress Research Institute, and Karolinska Institute, used data from a medical survey conducted in Sweden in 1997. Researchers then used data from the national death register to calculate death rates among the participants.
Participants who regularly had under five hours of sleep, without catching up at the weekend, were found to have a 52% higher mortality rate than those who had six-seven hours of sleep or more, seven days per week. But when those sleep-deprived on weekdays slept for nine hours or more at the weekend, their mortality rates were no different to consistent sleepers.
“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 authors wrote. “This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality.”
While weekend lie-ins may help you to live longer, previous research has suggested trying to reduce your “sleep debt” by staying in bed longer at the weekend won’t improve your brain function if you’ve skimped on sleep during the week.
The research published, in the American Journal of Physiology- Endocrinology and Metabolism, found weekend lie-ins helped to reduce inflammatory and stress hormones after a sleep-deprived working week, but brain function remained unimproved.
The moral of the story? Try to get plenty of sleep during the week and treat yourself to a weekend lie-in to stay on top form. We don’t need telling twice.