Why is your sleep schedule bad

to catch up on sleep A lack of sleep can be compensated for on the weekend

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Too little sleep can make you sick in the long run. However, researchers are giving the all-clear for nightmare and night owls: a sleep deficit can be made up for. What you should pay attention to.

Status: May 20, 2021

Anyone who still works in the evenings during the week, surfs the net, watches TV or meets friends, knows the phenomenon: Suddenly it is well past midnight - and the alarm clock rings alarmingly soon. However, long-term lack of sleep can make you sick and even increase the risk of death. This is confirmed by a study by the Stockholm Karolinska Institute (2018). However, the scientists involved also derive a tip from their study: Those who sleep less can catch up on the lack of sleep on the weekend.

Sleep in on the weekend to make up for a sleep deficit

If the lack of sleep is made up on days off, the lack of sleep does not go hand in hand with an increased risk of death, reports the international team of scientists led by Torbjörn Åkerstedt. "If you sleep on the weekend, you don't have to get the healthy 7 to 7.5 hours every day - which is often unrealistic for employees in today's world," says the head of the Sleep Medicine Center at the Berlin Charité, Professor Dr. Ingo Fietze, who was not involved in the study.

According to the study, five hours of sleep can be fatal

In their study, the researchers around Åkerstedt recorded the sleeping and living habits of almost 44,000 people in Sweden. For 13 years they tracked which study participants died. The researchers took seven hours as a reference value for the optimal length of sleep. Their analysis showed that people under the age of 65 who slept five hours or less each night had an increased risk of death during the study period compared to people who slept for seven hours. According to the researchers, those who sleep infrequently did not have a higher risk of death if they slept late at least on the weekend. From this, the authors of the study deduce that a sleep deficit can be compensated for on the weekend without major health disadvantages.

More than nine hours of sleep is also not healthy in the long run

What the researchers also found out: Those who constantly sleep very long hours do not live healthier as a result. The scientists also found an increased death rate among test persons under 65 years of age who slept more than nine hours a day. In people over 65 years of age, the researchers found little change in the risk of death, no matter how long those participants slept during the week and on weekends.

Sleep Study Vulnerability

However, the study from Sweden has a weak point: the participants were asked about their sleeping habits only once at the beginning of the study. It was not determined whether they changed this during the 13 observation years. So we can look forward to further studies on sleep research.

The need for sleep is individual

The Berlin sleep expert Ingo Fietze also assumes that constant sleep of less than six hours or more than nine hours shortens life expectancy and increases the risk of diabetes and cancer. In addition, there is the effect on the psyche: "Sleep for less than six hours is already on the mind after one night." Fietze recommends that if you want to start the day optimally, a sleep of around seven hours is just the right thing.

But the need for sleep varies greatly from person to person. On average, Germans feel sufficiently rested after seven to eight hours of sleep. Till Roenneberg, head of the Center for Chronobiology at LMU Munich, again assumes three to twelve hours of sleep, with large individual differences. He can prove this with his sleep database. In it he asked over 280,000 people about their sleeping habits.

The need for sleep depends on living conditions

Whether we need more or less sleep depends on various factors: the time of year, age or gender. For example, it has been proven that women sleep more on average than men. A newborn baby, a new job, or other major life changes also play a role.

Pre-sleep only brings something to a limited extent

Optimal for your health: sleep around seven hours a day. Please permanently no less than six and no more than nine hours a day.

When stressful times are ahead of us, it is of course good if we encounter them well rested. If you have slept enough in advance, you will get along better with less sleep in the next one or two days. Sleeping expert Ingo Fietze emphasizes that it is not possible to fall asleep for a longer period of time for future stress.