Weekends Sleeping In Could Help You Live Longer, Study Finds

Too much or too little sleep can literally kill you Representational image Creative Commons

While the study did not investigate the link between sleep patterns and mortality rates, Åkerstedt said it was possible little sleep had a negative effect on the body, while consistently lengthy sleep could be a sign of underlying health problems.

"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".

Not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of developing risky conditions like dementia, and could even lead to an early grave.

Member of the World Association of Sleep Medicine Alex Bartle told Larry Williams catch-ups in weekends can be helpful but people shouldn't rely on it.

But there was no increased risk of death for those who slept five or fewer hours during the week but then managed eight or more hours' sleep on weekend days.

Researchers examined the data gathered from over 43,000 Swedish residents who have been followed over a period of 13 years.

Torbjorn Akerstedt, one of the authors of the study and a professor at the Stockholm University's Stress Research Institute, stated that the goal of this investigation is to stimulate people to get a good night's sleep throughout the weekends.

"The assumption in this is that weekend sleep is a catch-up sleep", said Åkerstedt, though he noted the study did not prove that to be the case. That was true only for those under 65; the mortality difference disappeared for people who were older. Getting to bed to ensure eight hours of sleep is a daily battle, but it's nothing compared with getting up in the morning to make it to work on time.

Analysis showed that those aged 65 or under who slept five hours or less each day had a 25% higher risk of early death than those who had six to seven hours of sleep.

If a normal amount of sleep during the week is just a dream, sleep in on the weekend.

But when the short sleepers slept in on the weekends, their mortality rate did not differ from that of the consistent seven-hour-a-night sleepers.

The Sleep Council, an organisation promoting healthier sleep, says shut-eye is essential to "replenish energy stores" and "make repairs, while our minds organise and store the memories of the day before", on its website. This is because the elderly do seem to get all the sleep they need.

"I think people like the idea that you can compensate for lost sleep", Åkerstedt said.

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