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(In case I hadn't stressed this enough, sleep really is important!) But they also showed that people who got five hours of sleep a night during the week and then caught up on weekends by snoozing for eight hours or more a night experienced the same mortality rate as those who consistently slept six or seven hours nightly.

Accounting for a few other variables like gender, BMI, physical activity, work timings, and smoking habits, the study found that for people under 65, those who got five hours or less sleep for seven days a week on the regular had a 65 percent higher mortality rate than people who slept six to seven hours.

"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.

A study of almost 40,000 people by Sweden's Karolinska Institute found that adults under the age of 65 who slept fewer than five hours per night on average were significantly less healthy than those who got between five and eight hours.

Your pets may be pestering you to get up and feed them, and your spouse may want you to get started on that honey-do list, but tell them you're sleeping in this weekend.

Weekend lie-ins are not merely a beloved tradition, but a boost to the health of sleep-starved workers, new research indicates.

The study covered 38,000 adults with data collection starting in 1997 and participants in the study were followed up for about 13 years, using the country's death register.

"Possibly, long weekend sleep may compensate for short weekday sleep", the study said.

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For people over the age of 65, no link between sleep duration and a heightened risk of death was established.

Failing to get to sleep early can mean you don't get a consistent eight hours a night.

The Sleep Council, an organisation promoting healthier sleep, says shut-eye is essential to "replenish energy stores" and "make repairs, while our minds organise and store the memories of the day before", on its website.

"They sleep as much during weekdays as during weekends whereas the difference is huge in lower age groups", he explained.

Sleep expert Michael Grandner explains it this way: Most people who are considered "short sleepers" are probably just shy of getting seven hours.

The Swedish study reiterated what we already know so well - not getting enough sleep is bad for our health.

So forget "sleep when you're dead" - it might be more like "don't sleep, and you will be dead".