Sleeping in on the Weekends is Good For You (And Could Help You Live Longer)
For better or for worse, many of us aren’t getting the sleep we need during the week. Maybe it’s because of the long hours at our job, our jam-packed schedules, or the fact that we just want to binge watch one more show before bed, but most of us are getting less than the required eight hours of sleep a night. It’s gotten to the point that the CDC has actually declared a sleep crisis, saying one in three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep.
While it’s always best to get a consistent night’s sleep – not only does it leave your body well rested, it can help set your diurnal clock, which leads to more even sleep – there’s new evidence to suggest that sleeping in on the weekends is good for you too. That’s right, the policy of sleeping ‘till noon that started when you were a teenager actually got some scientific backing from a surprising source. This news certainly is going to come as a total bummer for moms with hefty Saturday afternoon chore lists.
Sleeping in on the Weekends May Increase Longevity
The study, which followed over 43,000 patients, collected medical and lifestyle data over the course of thirteen years. Popular opinion has always been that if a patient slept less than seven or so hours a night, the benefit of sleeping in on the weekends would be minimal. This new research refutes that claim. It found that people who slept just a few hours’ each night during the week but had a long sleep-in on the weekends had no increased risk of mortality, compared with those who consistently stuck to six or seven hours a night. It had to do more with total hours of sleep then when they were achieved.
“Sleep duration is important for longevity,” said Torbjörn Åkerstedt, first author of the study, at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University.
Akerstedt believes that this research wasn’t found earlier because scientists simply weren’t looking for it. He claims that previous research only looked at sleep during the work week, or took an average number of sleep hours from the week as a whole. This study specifically wanted to see how sleeping more on the weekends could affect longevity. It was this flaw in the study that Akerstedt just had a hunch about.
“I suspected there might be some modification if you also included weekend sleep, or day-off sleep,” said Akerstedt.
The More You’re Awake, The More You Need to Sleep
It might sound obvious, but it’s true. The more you’re awake during the week, the more you’re going to have to sleep — whether that night or on the weekend. It’s not just about “catch up” sleep, it has to do with your internal body clock and something called “the homeostatic process.” It’s a subject that drew Stewart Peirson, an expert on the diurnal clock, to this research.
“It fits with what we do know about sleep – that sleep is regulated by the body clock but also regulated by what is called a homeostatic process, which means the longer you are awake, the more you need to sleep,” said Peirson in a recent interview about the study.
This means that when you push your body into the red, you’re going to need some time to recover and make that up before trying it again. Otherwise, you may not like what happens to your body — either in the short term OR the long term.
“That sleep debt needs to be paid off,” said Pearson. “You can’t keep burning the candle at both ends. Well, you can, but you won’t live as long.”
That seems like a pretty strong endorsement to take your time and enjoy your sleep this weekend.
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