Catching up on sleep over the weekend doesn’t actually help, study finds

CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Thursday, February 28, 2019 6:55PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 28, 2019 6:56PM EST

After a hectic week at work, it might be tempting to laze away the weekend in bed.

But the problem with catching up on sleep is that it doesn’t actually help, according to new research.

The report, published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, suggests that negative side effects of not getting enough sleep on weekdays – such as weight gain and insulin sensitivity — can’t be solved with more sleep on Saturday and Sunday.

A person’s metabolism can become disrupted due to reduced sleep on weeknights. While it may feel nice to hit the snooze button on weekends, the extra sleep poses little real health benefits, according to Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado Boulder.

“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,” Wright said in a statement.

In the study, participants slept an extra 1.1 hours on weekends compared to a typical weeknight. Researchers found that this “recovery” sleep did not prevent weight gain or reduced insulin sensitivity.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including negative moods, reduced alertness and impaired attention and memory.

If a person regularly misses out on sleep, they are more prone to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes, according to the Canadian Sleep Society.

The most effective solution for sleep deprivation is deceptively simple: get more sleep. For those struggling to clock the recommended seven to eight hours per night, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends setting a strict bedtime and following it seven days a week, practicing an hour of screen-free “quiet time” before bed, and avoiding stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine before bed.

Getting exercise and fresh air earlier in the day can also lead to a good night’s sleep.

The younger you are, the more sleep you need. Children between the ages of 5 and 13 require nine to 11 hours per night, while teenagers ages 14 to 17 need eight to 10 hours, according to Health Canada guidelines.