New research suggests that sleeping in on the weekends could be making us age prematurely.
The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, found that adults who slept more on weekends than during the week had shorter telomeres which are protective caps on the ends of chromosomes.
Telomere shortening is a marker of biological ageing.
The researchers assessed data from 6,052 adults who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2011 and 2014.
They found that adults who slept for an average of 7.5 hours on weekdays and 9.5 hours on weekends had telomeres that were 40% shorter than those who slept for a consistent 7.5 hours each day.
The study's authors say that the disruption of our internal circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle, may be the culprit.
When we sleep in on the weekends, we are essentially resetting our body clocks to a later schedule. This can lead to misalignment between our internal and external clocks, which can have negative consequences for our health.
Other studies have also linked irregular sleep patterns to a range of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression.
The researchers say that the best way to avoid the negative effects of irregular sleep is to stick to a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible, even on weekends.
They also recommend avoiding exposure to bright light at night and limiting the use of electronic devices before bed.
If you have young children, work irregular shifts, or just have to get up really early for work, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
However, there are some things you can do to minimize the disruption to your body clock.
For example, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
You should also avoid napping during the day and make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.