By now, we’re all fully aware that sleep plays a starring role in our overall wellbeing. Gone are the days when it was considered cool to brag about only getting a few hours sleep because you were out partying or you stayed up late to finish a project (okaaaay, so maybe that one was never cool). But somehow, sleeping on the weekend feels different. There’s still a level of guilt that comes with pressing snooze a few extra times on a Sunday morning.
But according to new research, it’s time to ditch the guilt over our weekend lie-ins—because they could actually be saving our lives! The study from by Stockholm University’s Stress Research Institute and Karolinska Institute found that adults under the age of 65 who get five hours of shut-eye per night or less have a higher risk of death compared to those who consistently get six or seven hours of sleep per night.
Which kinda just confirms what we already knew, TBH. But interestingly, they also found that people who catch up on sleep on the weekend had no increased mortality risk compared with those who consistently get to bed early during the week.
To gather this information, they used data from a medical survey conducted in Sweden in 1997. The researchers then used data from the national death register to calculate death rates among the 43,000 participants.
Participants who regularly had less than five hours sleep without catching up at the weekend were found to have a 52% higher death rate than those who had six or seven hours of sleep or more, seven days per week. But, for the people who lacked sleep during the week but slept for nine or more hours on the weekend, their mortality rates were no different to consistent sleepers.
“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 study authors wrote. “This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality.”
Of course, the takeaway from this isn’t that you should try to get less shuteye during the week—getting regular, adequate sleep is essential for everything from your mood to your focus and concentration. But if on the odd occasion you skimp on sleep during the week, you shouldn’t feel bad about stealing a few extra hours on the weekend!