Did your weekend sleep in offset your sleep deprived week?

Can extra z’s on the weekend offset a sleep deprived week?


Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there…
Whether regularly or just every now and again, a demanding week can leave us well below the recommended 7+ hours of sleep per night, resulting in a higher risk of metabolic problems such as diabetes and obesity.

Often, we turn to the weekend to replenish our batteries. However, does overcompensating and sleeping in on the weekend offset any damage done during the week – especially when it comes to our metabolism?

To answer this question, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder conducted a study that focused on otherwise healthy young adults. The subjects were divided into three different groups:

The first group was ordered to sleep at least 9 hours per night for 9 consecutive days(tough gig!)
The second group was restricted to just 5 hours of sleep per night for 9 consecutive days (ouch!)
The third group tested our faithful weekend sleep-in theory. This group was restricted to 5 hours of sleep for 5 days, and then allowed unlimited sleep-ins during the weekend – before being restricted to 5 hours for another 2 nights.


So did extra rest on the weekend prevent metabolic changes due to sleep deprivation?

According to researchers, the answer is no.
In fact, both sleep restricted groups ate more food (mostly snacks after dinnertime,) and reported varying levels of weight gain as a result.

The sleep-in crew did consume less calories on the weekend when they were feeling well-rested. However, as soon as their sleep was restricted again, this group went straight back to snacking – leading to weight gain and notably decreased insulin sensitivity.

“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,” researcher Kenneth Wright told media sources.

These results reinforce the need for adults to have consistent sleep patterns, with health authorities such as the Sleep Research Society and American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommending 7+ hours of sleep per night for adults.


Blue light technology for reduced drowsiness

Whilst some may struggle to catch their recommended dose of daily z’s, researchers in Korea have been working on a solution to help people wake feeling refreshed and reenergised.

A team involving researchers from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology successfully revealed that exposure to blue-enriched white light can help people overcome morning drowsiness.

The study revealed that melatonin (the hormone responsible for sleep regulation) was significantly lowered after exposure to blue-enriched light. As a result, participants reported feeling less drowsy.

Although it isn’t practical to sit in front of a blue-enriched white light for an hour each morning – researchers suggest these results could influence the way we design our homes and places of work to improve our morning routine.

“When we investigate all of the psychological and physiological effects of light, we see there is much more to light than just efficient quantities”, explained researcher Professor Kyungah Choi.

“I believe that human-centric lighting strategies could be applied to a variety of environments, including residential areas, learning environments, and working spaces to improve our everyday lives.”