It’s now well known that lack of adequate sleep can profoundly affect health and longevity. It can negatively impact the cardiovascular system, metabolism, cognition, lead to anxiety and depression, and lower performance. A recent CNN story by Jen Christensen reported on a Swedish study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, that looked at the sleep habits of almost 43,000 people, then 13 years later, followed up. It found that people who slept five or fewer hours a night, or more than eight hours a night, had worse health outcomes and higher mortality compared with those who regularly got seven hours.
A surprising finding of the study was that when short sleepers—six hours or slightly less— slept in on weekends, their mortality rate didn’t differ from those who consistently slept seven hours. But this was true only for people under age 65. Because there was not a huge deficit, short sleepers could compensate with more sleep on weekends.
The co-author of the study, Torbjorn Akerstedt, said that seven hours is not a hard and fast rule. Some need more, others less. You can tell by how well you function on the amount you’re getting. ‘Sleep is something you need to replenish regularly if you don’t want to hurt your health,’ says Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona. It’s like your diet, he says—you can splurge a little but not on a regular basis.
Getting regular massage and bodywork can have a positive impact on deep sleep patterns so that the sleep you are getting will be more beneficial. At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, we know that an hour or more of bodywork does wonders to help inner body healing and rebuilding. Massage provides a restful timeout to soothe your nervous system and recharge your energy.