Ever feel guilty or indulgent for sleeping in on the weekends? Well, you shouldn’t! Recent studies show that snoozing longer on Saturdays and Sundays can actually help you live longer.
According to research published in the Journal of Sleep Research, in a study spanning 13 years and involving 43,880 subjects, adults ages 65 and under who averaged five hours (or less) of sleep per night had a 65% higher chance of an earlier death than those who consistently slept for around seven hours every night.
Sounds grim, but here’s the good news: The study participants who “compensated” for short weeknight sleeps by sleeping longer on the weekends had a greater life expectancy, on par with the group that slept for seven hours every night.
“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 researchers wrote. “This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality.”
However, as encouraging as this news may be for weekend late-sleepers, there is also ample evidence that keeping a consistent sleep schedule (so, not varying the amount of sleep you get during the week vs. over the weekend) is truly the best bet for optimal health.
A study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explained that inconsistent sleep is often tied to poorer health. Known as “social jet lag,” irregular sleep habits upset the body’s natural circadian rhythms, leading to an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Having difficulty sleeping will certainly make sticking to a consistent sleep schedule tough, though. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, try creating a relaxing, dark and cold environment before you get into bed.
Experts also say that minimizing screen time before bedtime helps with getting to sleep. Of course, don’t forget the obvious tricks, either: Getting enough exercise, limiting caffeine and avoiding daytime naps should help if sleeping soundly at night is a problem for you.