According to University of Colorado Boulder research published in Current Biology, sleeping in on the weekend is not an effective strategy to repair the damage from a week of sleepless nights. Rather, the attempt to play catch-up for a few days and then going back to bad sleep habits makes things worse on some health measures.
Earlier research has demonstrated that lack of sufficient sleep can increase risk of obesity and diabetes, in part by enhancing the craving to munch at night and decreasing insulin sensitivity—or the ability to regulate blood sugar.
Studies suggest that although the body can recover mildly during the weekend due to sleeping in on those two days, the effects don’t last.
Senior author Kenneth Wright, director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Lab and lead author Chris Depner, an assistant research professor of Integrative Physiology, enlisted 36 adult volunteers, for the study, to live for two weeks in a laboratory, where their food intake, light exposure and sleep were monitored. They found that among the people who got to sleep in on the weekend showed no benefit in any of their metabolic outcome.
“It could be that the yo-yoing back and forth—changing the time we eat, changing our circadian clock and then going back to insufficient sleep is uniquely disruptive,” said Wright.
People found it tough to make up for lost sleep, even when they were given a chance because their body clocks had shifted further making it hard to fall asleep on time even when they had to wake up early the next day.
The study reiterates that consistency in sleep schedule matters a great deal. Getting sufficient sleep on a regular schedule is essential for an individual’s health and well-being. Frequently changing sleep schedules is a form of stress associated with metabolic abnormalities. Therefore, one must try to get 7 hours of sleep as many nights as possible.