The unfortunate truth about weekend sleep ins

Henrietta Strickland
March 2, 2019

The outcomes showed that those in the sleep-restricted groups had the tendency to snack more at night, therefore gaining weight and experiencing a drop in insulin sensitivity - the weekend sleep-in group reduced their snacking over the two days. Despite complete freedom to sleep in and nap during a weekend recovery period, participants in a sleep laboratory who were limited to five hours of sleep on weekdays gained almost three pounds over two weeks and experienced metabolic disruption that would increase their risk for diabetes over the long term.

The study was published today in Current Biology.

Studying a group of adults over a two week period, scientists found that those who slept no more than five hours for five days before two days of sleeping as long as they liked, gained next to nothing compared with those who followed a longer, more structured sleeping pattern.

It's common knowledge that going short on sleep is bad for your health.

To investigate, researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder recruited 36 participants between the ages of 18 and 39, each of whom spent a few nights in the sleep lab. A sleep-restriction group of 14 participants slept 5 hours each night. One of those groups, however, was allowed to choose their own bedtime and sleep in after five nights on the short sleep schedule to simulate a weekend of sleeping in.

They found that the groups who had their shut-eye limited had the poorest health outcomes and experienced increased caloric intake from late night snacking, weight gain, and decreased insulin sensitivity. For instance, in the group which had their sleep restricted the whole time, whole body insulin sensitivity declined by 13 percent. Even when people don't have a choice about losing sleep due to child-care responsibilities or job schedules, they should think about prioritizing sleep in the same way they would a healthy diet or exercise. Other studies associate a lack of sleep with depression, neurodegeneration, and Alzheimer's. Men were able to get a cumulative extra two hours over the weekend. In fact, Peter Hess at Inverse reports the sleep-deprived munched on average 500 after-dinner calories more than their well-rested counterparts. But it's possible that it could help refresh someone who misses one or two nights of sleep during the work week-though that idea needs more research.

The average Australian sleeps seven hours a night, the very minimum recommended amount, and many sleep fat less than that - about one in 10 regularly gets only five-and-a-half hours sleep a night.

"This study demonstrates the importance of getting sufficient sleep on a regular schedule", said Michael Twery, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. However, the study indicates that frequent sleep deprivation may present issues that a couple extra hours won't compensate for, and that frequent yo-yo sleep cycles may lead to bigger metabolic issues.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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