The scientists discovered that people who slept five hours or fewer during the week, but got over eight hours of rest on the weekends, did not have any increase in their mortality rate.
"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 report said. That made the risk of death the same as those consistent sleepers getting a good seven hours every night.
However, despite its ostensible health benefits, the "mini jet lag" effect of extra sleep at the weekend may actually leave you feeling more exhausted.
Weekend lie-ins are not merely a beloved tradition, but a boost to the health of sleep-starved workers, new research indicates.
"We can't really say 100 percent we have proven this, but it's a reasonable assumption that this is what's happening", said lead study author Torbjörn Åkerstedt, a professor of behavioral medicine at Stockholm University in Sweden.
To come up with these findings, researchers analyzed data from 30,000 subjects over a period of 13 years.
"Possibly, long weekend sleep may compensate for short weekday sleep", the study said.
Watch out, because sleeping over 8 hours a day also raises the mortality rate by 25% compared to those that regularly sleep for 6-7 hours.
For those who only manage to get less than five hours of shut eye throughout the week, but then have a longer snooze on the weekends, there was no heightened mortality risk.
The study has its limitations, as participants were asked to recall their sleep patterns rather than being observed sleeping, but Åkerstedt has an idea about what might be driving this difference in mortality.
The study, which included nearly 44,000 participants, concluded that "short weekend sleep was associated with an increased mortality in subjects less than 65 years old".
"Try to sleep for seven hours regardless of day of the week, but older individuals need less, and younger need more sleep".
"It fits with what we do know about sleep", he said. "If you can function on what you get, you are likely getting the right amount of sleep".
Since the longer you are awake, the more sleep you need-your "sleep debt" needs to be "paid off."
So forget "sleep when you're dead" - it might be more like "don't sleep, and you will be dead".
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