Can You Catch Up On Sleep On Weekends? This New Study Says You Can, But It’s Complicated
Who doesn't love to spend an extra hour (or five) in bed on weekend mornings? Of course, with a good day of sleeping in, there can often come that little pang of guilt that you should be using the weekend to its maximum potential for things like, you know, going to the farmers' market, or your cousin's birthday party. But even though it's been said that extra weekend snoozing can't make up for those hours you shaved off while working late during the week, it turns out that you can catch up on sleep on the weekends, according to new research, and doing so might make a huge difference in your overall restfulness. However, with most good things in this world, there usually comes a bit of a catch — more on that in a bit.
First of all, part of the struggle for many of us is that we aren't all built for sleeping at the exact same hours, and those who consider themselves to be night owls can sometimes suffer from the regimented 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. grind that most workplaces and societal schedules demand. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Chronobiology International showed that night owls may be more likely to deal with health issues in the long-term than people who have an easier time sticking to the usual work/sleep schedule.
Now, a newer study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, considered the relationship between people's sleep schedules and their mortality rates.
In other words, this study, which was done at the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University in Sweden, looked at how someone's sleep schedule affects how long they'll live. The researchers examined data from more than 43,000 adults, which was first collected in 1997, and then they compared that data with Sweden's national death register to check on the status of these individuals.
According to Business Insider, the study found that adults under 65 who habitually got only five hours of sleep or less each night had a much higher risk of an early death than people who clocked in closer to six or seven hours of sleep each night. The interesting, or newer finding in this research, though, is this: Those who made up for lost hours of weekday sleep by sleeping in on weekends didn't have a raised mortality rate in comparison to the sleepers with more consistent hours.
These results are particularly fascinating because they kind of contradict previous claims from sleep scientists that there's no such thing as making up for lost sleep time.
As reported by Newsweek, the researchers wrote in their study,
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. This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality.
But, like I said, there's a bit of a catch to these seemingly awesome findings.
According to Business Insider, most sleep experts say the best way to get quality shut-eye is always, always, always going to be to find balance in your sleep schedule.
Elise Facer-Childs, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, told the news outlet that part of the problem with inconsistent sleep patterns is that it has a similar effect to jet-lag in terms of what it does to your body:
I would say that it is all about getting the right balance. Yes, if you are extremely sleep-deprived during the week, then continuing that over the weekend isn't ideal, and maybe you should think about getting a few more hours.
Does that mean you should have no qualms whatsoever about sleeping in until 1 p.m. on Saturdays and then ordering Seamless to devour from the comfort of your bed? Well, yes, but also, you might want to consider tacking on those extra hours at the beginning of your rest cycle, as opposed to the end of it.
Facer-Childs also told Business Insider that timing is key when it comes to your sleep schedule — meaning, if you're getting up early for work every day of the week, and then on the weekend, you're sleeping much later, this can really be a doozy on your body's internal clock. With that in mind, she told the outlet that she recommends going to bed earlier on weekends, as opposed to waking up later when you're trying to make up for lost sleep. I don't know about you, but I'm always exhausted come Friday night after a long week, so that sounds pretty doable, don't you think?