Why that weekend lie-in is good for your health

A large study suggests you can make up for sleep lost during the week

Sleeping in on the weekend may make up for any sleep deficit during the week and may even guard against premature death, new research shows.


In the 13-year study of more than 43,000 people, international researchers compared the duration of sleep on weekdays versus weekends against overall mortality.

Those who had less than five hours of sleep a night were more likely to die prematurely than those who regularly had seven hours of shut-eye.

But when the weekday short sleepers compensated with weekend sleep-ins, there was no difference in mortality.

The study also found that too much sleep was linked to higher rates of premature death.

Significantly, these findings did not apply to those aged 65 and over.

This suggests that older people’s sleep habits are sufficient, say the authors.

Previous research found a similar age effect for short sleep in relation to hypertension, CVD and obesity.

“For the younger participants in the present study, the difference between weekday and weekend sleep was large, probably reflecting a relatively consistent sleep deficit that may accumulate and link to mortality, if not sufficiently compensated for,” write the researchers in the Journal of Sleep Research.

For the older people, weekday and weekend sleep were equally short but seemed to suffice, they add.

The findings suggest that for younger people, a short weekday sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with sleeping in on the weekend.

Read the full study here