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.