Are You a Weekend (Sleep) Warrior?
Like cranky old men and rusting wheels, being too set in your ways can be bad. At Sleep365, we’re constantly learning about the latest science behind healthy sleep — and the best ways to benefit from it.
For us, it starts with great mattresses — and we back it up with solid advice about the best ways to get the right amount of sleep. But when new studies pop up that may challenge our opinions, we don’t ignore them — we pay close attention.
That’s why we wanted to share some thoughts on a recently released study in Sweden about using weekends to make up for a lack of sleep.
“APPARENTLY, SLEEPING IN ON THE WEEKENDS CAN BE A REAL HELP.”
TORBJÖRN ÅKERSTEDT, STRESS RESEARCH INSTITUTE DIRECTOR, STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY
Snooze a little.
The study followed over 43,000 people for 13 years, monitoring their sleep habits and their mortality rates. Two things stood out: 1) “short sleepers” who slept less than the optimal amount of time every day — both weekdays and weekends — had a higher mortality rate. And 2) short sleepers who slept in on the weekends had essentially the same mortality rate as people who consistently sleep the optimal amount every night.
At a glance, it’s easy to see: not getting enough sleep isn’t healthy. But the bigger question here is: can you actually make up for your lack of sleep?
It’s just one study — so don’t get too excited.
We’ve seen a number of studies showcasing the benefits of the right amount of sleep, and studies documenting the adverse effects of too much sleep.
Give it the old college try.
The great news here is: this study looks to give some hope for people who don’t sleep quite enough during the week. Whether it’s because your work schedule is nuts or you’re a night owl, this study suggests there may be a chance you can make up for some of that on the weekend.
But, be careful. As Dr. Michael Grander, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, says, “It’s like with your diet. If you eat OK during the week and you splurge a little on the weekend, you probably aren’t hurting your health, but if you eat crap all week, no amount of Brussels sprouts or kale that you eat on the weekends can make up for that.”
So don’t eat crap most of the time, and don’t sleep like crap most of the time. It’s a pretty easy and obvious standard, right?
What’s that mean in practice? Most likely it means that the people who actually benefit most from sleeping in on weekends are getting just slightly less than optimal sleep during the week. As Grander suggests, the study’s “short sleepers” who benefit from long weekend snoozes aren’t depleting their sleep needs drastically during the week. Grander suggests these people are likely getting just under 6-7 hours per night during the weekday — so, this isn’t a free pass to sleep 3 hours per night and then make it all up on the weekend.
“CONSISTENCY IS KEY.”
Stay on track.
Like we said: we’re always learning, and always open to new ideas. And there’s some really comforting news in this new study, especially if you’re already mostly consistent in your sleep but falling just short of optimal hours during the week.
But one little thing could get lost in this study — and it’s the most important news: the group that consistently slept an optimal amount of time, every day, had the lowest mortality rates. This fact stacks up nicely with all the other studies out there suggesting the same thing.
In other words: if you’re sleeping a bit less than the optimal hours during the week and feel like sleeping in on the weekends sometimes, it’s not gonna hurt. Because, hey, it’s science. But, consistently getting a good night’s sleep is clearly the healthiest habit.