Effects of Lack of Sleep Counteracted By Lie-ins 

lack of sleep lie ins

People who get five or fewer hours of sleep during the week, but then have a lie-in at the weekend, have no raised mortality risk, according to new research.

However, those who consistently have a lack of sleep do have an increased risk of dying early, the Swedish study found.

Impact of sleep

Previous studies have found a link between lack of sleep and long-term health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  

However, this new study is the first to look at the impact of having different amounts of sleep during the week and at weekends.

Questionnaire results

Researchers from the Karolinksa Institute and Stockholm University in Sweden, and Texas A&M University in the US, looked at information given from over 40,000 people in Sweden in 1997 via a questionnaire.

The questionnaire asked them about how long they slept for during work days and days off. The people were followed up until 2010 to find out whether there was any link between their sleep patterns and their chances of dying during the 13 years follow-up.

Other lifestyle factors, such as whether the participants smoked, drank alcohol, drank coffee and were physically active, were taken into account during the analysis.

Increased risk

For those aged under 65, compared to people who slept for six to seven hours on each night, people who slept for five hours or less on weekdays and weekends were 65% more likely to have died during the follow-up period. 

However, there was no increased risk of death for people who slept for five or fewer hours during the week, but then got eight or more hours’ sleep at the weekend.

The researchers worked out that people who consistently had low amounts of sleep died approximately eight months earlier than those who sleep for six to seven hours each night.

For those aged 65 or older, no link was found between sleep patterns and mortality. The researchers believe this could be because older people were getting the sleep they needed.

Compensatory sleep

The study results, which were published in the Journal of Sleep Research, imply that lack of sleep during the week is not associated with a higher risk of early death if it is combined with a long sleep at the weekend – suggesting that short sleep in the week can be compensated for at the weekend.


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