Are long Sunday mornings in bed the highlights of your week?
Then you shouldn’t have a bad conscience even if you slumber half your day away, according to a Stockholm University study that looked at how a person’s age and average hourly sleep hours impacts his or hers chances of survival.
“It seems like you actually can compensate by catching up on sleep during weekends, says Torbjörn Åkerstedt, a professor at the Center for Stress Research at Stockholm University, which conducted the study.
The study, involving 43,000 people, found that those aged 65 or under were the most affected by how much sleep they got. For instance, the researchers found that people who got less than 5 or more than 8 hours of sleep per night had a higher risk of death.
The causal links between age and sleep wasn’t confirmed, and Åkerstedt points out that these categories of people face substantially higher yet “moderately elevated” chances of earlier death.
The main conclusion seems to be that, during weekends, you are doing your health a service by staying in bed.
“This is in effect an argument for lazing around all weekend. There probably is an upper limit, but it’s anyway better to increase [sleep hours] on the weekend rather than not doing it at all, Åkerstedt told Sveriges Radio.
However, these finding don’t necessarily mean that it’s advisable to fall behind on sleep in the first place. In recent years, there has been a swathe of attention and research directed towards the importance of sleep – and its effects on mood, appetite, weight, and other factors.
Many studies imply that the best strategy – for productivity and health – is to keep your bedtime hours as even as possible, even during weekends. This has to do with the body’s internal clock, or the circadian rhythm.
For one, a 2010 Harvard Medical School study found that it is nearly impossible to truly “catch up on sleep” to improve performance, which seems to be supported by a host of anecdotal evidence and informed opinions on the subject.
All considered, it’s probably best to aim to keep your sleep routine as consistent as possible throughout the week.