U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Bad News — Sleeping in on Weekends Does Not Make Up for Sleep Loss, Report Reveals

The study found those who sleep in on the weekends to make up for sleep loss gained weight, had lowered responsiveness to insulin

What to Know

  • Report reveals that “catch-up” sleep doesn't make up for lost sleep, could have the same health consequences as people who do not get enough
  • In a Current Biology report, researchers found using weekend to make up for lost sleep can lead to weight gain, lowered response to insulin
  • Additionally, weekend sleepers group were found to have noteworthy declines in liver and muscle cells, the report says

If you are one of the countless people who like to sleep in during your days off in hopes of catching up on those Z's you lost during the work week, we have bad news.

According to a published report, a recent study reveals that “catch-up” sleep does not make up for lost sleep and could have the same health consequences as people who do not get enough sleep.

In a Current Biology study published Thursday, researchers found that, in young adults, using the weekend to make up for lost sleep during the work week can lead to increased late-night munchies, weight gain and a lowered responsiveness to insulin, according to ScienceNews.org.

Since the 1990s, scientists have understood loss of sleep can impact a person’s metabolic health, causing behavioral and physiological changes that can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to ScienceNews.org.

However, in 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that roughly 35 percent of American adults reported sleeping fewer than the recommended seven hours per night, according to ScienceNews.org.

Weekends may seem like an ideal time to catch up on sleep, but it was unclear whether that could actually work. With this in mind researchers set up an experiment using three groups of young adults in their mid-20s through different sleep regimens for roughly two weeks. One group slept roughly eight hours every night; another got roughly five hours a night; the third got around five hours on weeknights and slept whenever and as much as they wanted over a weekend.

According to ScienceNews.org, the weekend recovery sleepers usually stayed up until roughly midnight Friday and Saturday nights and slept until between 11 a.m. and noon. These sleepers also stayed up late on Sunday, getting about six hours of sleep leading into the workweek. Overall, during the weekend, each got about 1.1 hours more than their natural sleep cycles suggested they needed between Friday and Sunday nights, the researchers found.

“Our findings show that energy intake from after-dinner snacks and body weight were increased, and insulin sensitivity was reduced during recurrent insufficient sleep following ad libitum weekend recovery sleep. Furthermore, during recurrent insufficient sleep following weekend recovery sleep, we show that the timing of the internal circadian clock was delayed, and hepatic and muscle insulin sensitivity were reduced,” the report concludes.

Both weekend recovery sleepers and the group that did not get enough sleep every night gained weight, according to the report. However, when it came to insulin sensitivity, the two groups deviated. Sensitivity across all body tissues in the weekend recovery group dropped around 27 percent, compared with their baseline sensitivity measured at the start of the experiment, the study showed. The number was substantially worse than the 13 percent decline in those who had little sleep.

Additionally, the weekend sleepers group was the only one to have noteworthy declines in liver and muscle cells, which are both important for food digestion, after a weekend of trying to catch up on sleep, ScienceNews.org says.

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