Today, the average American does not fulfill his daily requirement of sleep. This is mainly due to the fact that the lifestyles are no longer the same. People rarely find time for themselves while juggling between work, school, and social life. Hence, the health of the people deteriorates and it leads to many different problems.
For the missed sleep part, most of the people rejoice and get their missed hours of slumber on weekends. This is a common practice that is also thought to be good after not getting enough sleep on the weekdays. For example, a study from the Journal of Sleep Research proved such habits may be good for health.
However, new research challenges this popular notion and proves otherwise. Previously, past studies have linked lack of sleep with an increased risk of many health issues. This includes obesity, cardiovascular problems, metabolic disorders, and diabetes.
The new study further adds to this list, stating that long hours of sleep on the weekends may not be enough to reverse the damage caused by lack of sleep during the week. The findings can be found in the journal Current Biology.
Read the study here.
How Was the Research Conducted?
In order to see whether staying in the bed for long hours on weekend can help battle the effects of lack of sleep, the researchers looked at 36 young participants who were also healthy. These participants were then divided into three groups:
- Group 1 – Consisting of people who had five hours of sleep during both weekdays and weekends
- Group 2 – Consisting of people who had five hours of sleep during the weekdays and unlimited hours on the weekends as well as two more days of five hours of sleep
- Group 3 – Control group with people who had nine hours of sleep on both weekdays and weekends
The researchers observed these groups and found that people who had limited hours of sleep during the week mostly developed unhealthy habits such as snacking after dinner. This also raised the risk of weight gain in the participants in the group.
On the contrary, people who slept for a long time after the weekend consumed fewer calories in comparison. However, as the weekend passed by, they went back to late night snacking. Not only did this cause weight gain but increased their body clocks constantly.
What Was the Unexpected Finding?
In addition to the previous observations, the researchers noticed that the effects of insulin sensitivity in the participants of the different groups. The group with limited hours of sleep had around thirteen percent decrease in their insulin sensitivity.
This did not come as something new to the researchers. However, in the group that stayed in on weekends, the effects were no different. In fact, they had an overall lower insulin sensitivity particularly in the muscles and the liver. The researchers comment on these findings, saying:
“This finding was not anticipated and further shows that weekend recovery sleep is not likely to be an effective sleep-loss countermeasure regarding metabolic health when sleep loss is chronic.”
Research such as this busts the very popular myth of how long hours of sleep is beneficial especially if the daily hours of slumber are less than eight hours. It also shows the significance of sleep and how it is mandatory to maintain health and prevent dangerous health conditions.
The team working on this recent study hopes to also check whether counter sleep loss strategies such as daytime naps can help in reversing the damage caused by lack of sleep.
In the meantime, it is better to make time for sleep at night not only for better health but improved work performance and social skills the following day.