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Fitness & Health

11th Jun 2018

Lie-ins can help you live longer, research shows

Sleeping in on the weekend is particularly beneficial if you don't get enough shut-eye during the week

Alex Roberts

Are you left lumbered with guilt after a weekend lie-in? It needn’t be that way. New data shows a weekend snooze session can help you live longer

There is nothing more tempting than hitting that snooze button on a Saturday morning – more so if you work the traditional nine to five.

Despite how good it feels to stay in bed, it’s not something that has previously been associated with health benefits – but that could be set to change.

Research carried out at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute looked at the sleeping patterns of some 40,000 people.

Those who slept on average seven hours a night had the lowest risk of early death.

People with the highest risks only slept for an average five hours – even across the weekend. Their chances of early death were increased by as much as 52%.

However, in those who slept for just five hours during the week, sleeping in for longer on the weekend was found to be as beneficial as a weekly average of seven hours.

This is great news if you love a Saturday or Sunday morning lie-in.

While this study focussed on sleep and death risks, deprived shut-eye can also negate other aspects of health and fitness.

Less than five hours a night is linked to poor training adaptations – less muscle gain in response to lifting weights, and more fat gain.

Poor sleep is also associated with impaired testosterone and growth hormone output. These two hormones are responsible for a variety of functions, from improved body composition and strength to increased libido and enhanced critical thinking skills.

If you are struggling to get to sleep, then there are many things you can do to counteract that.

  • Sort out your sleep environment: your bedroom needs to be comfortable, quiet and dark. Make sure it’s tidy and use blackout blinds if it helps to block out light.
  • Wind it down: your brain needs to relax well before your body does. Try and limit the amount of physical and emotional stress you encounter in the few hours before bed, as this could keep you wired for hours on end.
  • Dim the lights: artificial light interferes with your natural sleep cycle as your body assumes any light hitting the retina is daylight. Dim room lights and switch off electronic devices at least an hour before bed.

Here are more proven ways to improve your sleep.