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What if we told you that when you say “I really need a vacation,” you were completely valid and not making an exhaustion-fueled exaggeration? Good news, because according to a recent study — that just might be the case.

Conducted by the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, the 40-year study in question divided 1,200 men with at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease into two groups: intervention and control. The intervention group was reminded to exercise, eat a balanced diet, stop smoking and shed unhealthy habits while receiving medication that lowered blood pressure and lipid levels, if necessary. The control group was left their own devices.

Fast forward five years and subjects from the intervention group have, unsurprisingly, lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by 46% on average. However, when scientist checked back another 10 years later, they were met with some unexpected results — men from the control were out-living men from the intervention group.

When the analysis was extended to 2014, researchers found an interesting correlation between the amount of work, sleep and vacation the men were having and their lifespans. Members of the intervention group had a 37% greater chance of dying in 1974 to 2004 if they took three weeks or less annual vacation. Vacation time had no effect on members of the control group.

“The harm caused by the intensive lifestyle regime was concentrated in a subgroup of men with shorter yearly vacation time,” said Professor Timo Strandberg, of the University of Helsinki in Finland. “In our study, men with shorter vacations worked more and slept less than those who took longer vacations. This stressful lifestyle may have overruled any benefit of the intervention. We think the intervention itself may also have had an adverse psychological effect on these men by adding stress to their lives.”

So, there we have it. The perfect reason to tell your boss that you’re going to need that time off soon to finally take that trip to Europe (or wherever your heart desires.) It’s also a great excuse to spend those points that you’ve been hoarding all year long. Take that vacation, you deserve it.

Featured image by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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