Want To Sleep In This Weekend? Here Is Some Good News
Isn’t it great when a scientific study justifies what you were going to do anyway? If were planning on sleeping in this weekend, then a study just published Journal of Sleep Research may help you sleep even better.
Previous studies have shown a correlation between less sleep per night (such as less than 5 hours) and a higher risk of death. But besides keeping you awake with worry, such studies may not help you change your sleeping behavior. After all you may not have the luxury of sleeping in every day, unless of course you sell your kids, fail your classes, or blow off work. (By the way, don’t sell your kids.) Therefore, your hope may be that the weekends provide a way of catching up on sleep. However, is sleep really like the Games of Thrones? Can you really binge on weekends and recover what you missed on the weekdays?
Potentially according to researchers from Stockholm University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. A team (Torbjörn Åkerstedt, Francesca Ghilotti, Alessandra Grotta, Hongwei Zhao, Hans‐Olov Adami, Ylva Trolle‐Lagerros, and Rino Bellocco) analyzed data on 43,880 people who were followed for 13 years (meaning that their records spanned this time and not that they were literally followed by researchers in disguises). Not surprisingly, people under 65 years of age who slept for 5 hours or less on each weekend day were 52% more likely to have died than those who got 7 hours of sleep on each weekend day. What was interesting was that those who had 5 hours or less of sleep per weekday but 7 hours per weekend day did not have a higher risk of death than those who had 7 hours of sleep each and every day. By contrast, those who had 5 hours or less of sleep every day had a 65% higher rate of death. Of note, sleeping over 8 hours a day was also associated with a 25% higher risk of death.
So as the hot dog said to the bottle, you can catch up (or ketchup). At least, that’s what this Swedish study suggests. The emphasis is on the word suggests. And the word Swedish. And also the word study. OK, the emphasis is on every word except for this. An observational study like this one (yes, the emphasis is on this too) can only show associations and not prove cause-and-effect. A lot of other factors could be affecting both the amount of sleep and the risk of death. For example, maybe people who are sleeping less every day have more unstable work and personal situations than those who at least can sleep in on weekends. Moreover, results from a study in Sweden does not necessarily apply everywhere. Those in Sweden may be facing very different circumstances compared to those from a Texas or any other country. Finally, this is a study and not a thorough inventory and examination of your life. Results from a study may not necessarily apply to you, because you are like a snowflake, unique and special in your own right.
Therefore, hold off on any definitive conclusions for now. We need more studies to determine if the weekends can allow you to make up for the sins of the week (as opposed to other situations where the weekdays make up for the sins of the weekend.) Researchers must examine more carefully what is really happening with each person to sort out the real causes and effects. Also, studies in other parts of the world would be helpful.
Nonetheless, sleeping in feels good doesn’t it? There’s nothing like waking up and seeing your clock read a time that’s 2 hours after when you normally get up (except for seeing that it is 3 hours after that time). Getting enough sleep on weekends is probably better than never getting enough sleep. So if you are sleep-deprived during the weekdays, get more sleep on the weekends. Of course, one worry may be that longer sleep on weekends may throw off your sleep cycle for the weekdays. But that doesn’t mean continue to sleep deprive yourself on weekends. Never getting enough sleep can’t be good for you. When it comes to sleep, you really shouldn’t be singing that you “Just Can’t Enough.”