We all know how important sleep is for our health. But did you know that sleeping poorly during the week and trying to make up for it at weekends does not reverse the damage chronic sleep loss does?
According to new research, the findings of which appear in Current Biology, long weekend lie-ins are not enough to undo the damage that sleep loss during the week causes.
As one of the study authors, Kenneth Wright, from the University of Colorado Boulder, points out: “The key take-home message from this study is that ad libitum weekend recovery or catch-up sleep does not appear to be an effective countermeasure strategy to reverse sleep-loss-induced disruptions of metabolism.”
For the study, researchers recruited 36 young and healthy individuals. Said individuals were then split into three groups: one that got 5 hours' sleep per night both during the week and at weekends; one that got 5 hours' sleep per night during the week, followed by unrestricted sleep at the weekend and then another 2 nights of 5 hours' sleep; and a control group that got up to 9 hours’ sleep every night during both the week and the weekend.
All study participants who had restricted sleep during the week gained weight because they tended to snack after dinner. Moreover, even after recharging over the weekend, individuals who went back to restricted sleep during the week continued their after-dinner snacking habit and gained weight.
Furthermore, participants who had restricted sleep every night also had lower insulin sensitivity – a marker of poorer than average health.
So if you’re in the habit of not sleeping much during the week and trying to make up for it at weekends, you could be detrimentally impacting your health.