Dream on! The surprising health benefit of a weekend lie-in
Name: The weekend lie-in.
Age: As old as the weekend.
Appearance: An unmoving lump under a duvet, with the sun shining on it.
Ah! What a guilty pleasure. Apparently, you shouldn’t feel any guilt.
Because you’re unconscious? No, because a little weekend lie-in is good for you.
Can I just say that, in my heart, I have always known this. According to a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, people who catch up on missed sleep at weekends have lower rates of depression than those who don’t.
Staying in bed all day is a cure for depression – who knew? Careful, the study showed that people who slept an extra one to two hours at weekends had a lower risk, but the prevalence of depression rose again for those who got more than two extra hours.
Understood. What else do I have to do? You have to be Korean.
Why’s that? It’s just that the study used data from a 2016 health survey in which all 5,500 participants were from South Korea.
I don’t wish to pour cold water over these findings, but I thought you couldn’t make up for lost sleep by getting more at weekends. Different studies yield different, if not necessarily contradictory, results. A 2019 sleep study found that a weekend lie-in conferred no benefits to metabolic health for subjects with a weekday sleep deficit. But research from the previous year seemed to show that catch-up sleep could counteract a higher mortality rate in the long term for regular under-sleepers. Other experts even suggest that weekend lie-ins may cause insomnia.
Can’t these scientists agree on anything? Yes: consistently getting too little sleep is really bad for you, and has a negative impact on mood, concentration, memory, weight, the immune system and your lifespan.
And too much sleep? Also bad.
So should I lie in this Saturday or what? Overall, it seems that while lie-ins are no substitute for good sleep hygiene, an extra hour or so will do you no harm, and may improve your mood.
Can I save time by getting that extra hour at work on Friday afternoons? You can try.
Do say: “Don’t wake me up before you go go.”
Don’t say: “But do wake me up shortly after you return with croissants.”