Can You Make Up for Lost Sleep on Weekends?

How often do you increase your sleep duration on the weekend in order to “catch up” on sleep lost during your workweek? Are you also trying to lose weight? A recent study reveals your weekend recovery sleep is not helping.

Insufficient sleep is recognized as a risk factor for obesity and diabetes. Specifically, insufficient sleep alters behavioral and physiological processes implicated in metabolic dysregulation which leads to weight gain and reduced insulin sensitivity. The Sleep Research Society and America Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend that adults regularly get 7 or more hours of sleep to promote optimal health.

This study divided healthy, young adults into three groups:

  1. control(CON) with 9 hour sleep opportunities,
  2. sleep restriction without weekend recovery sleep(SR) having 5 hour sleep opportunities, and
  3. sleep restriction with weekend recovery sleep(WR) having insufficient sleep for a 5 day workweek, then 2 days of weekend recovery, followed by another workweek of insufficient sleep.

The study lasted 13 days.

This study divided healthy, young adults into three groups: 1) control(CON) with 9 hour sleep opportunities, 2) sleep restriction without weekend recovery sleep(SR) having 5 hour sleep opportunities, and 3) sleep restriction with weekend recovery sleep(WR) having insufficient sleep for a 5 day workweek, then 2 days of weekend recovery, followed by another workweek of insufficient sleep. The study lasted 13 days.

For the SR and WR groups, insufficient sleep increased after-dinner energy intake and body weight (about 1.4 kg by study day 13) versus CON. During the weekend recovery sleep in the WR group, subjects slept 1.1 more hours longer than the baseline, and after-dinner energy intake decreased compared to the insufficient workweek sleep. However, during recurrent insufficient sleep that followed the weekend “catch up” sleep, after-dinner energy intake and body weight again increased versus CON. Additionally, in the SR group whole body insulin sensitivity decreased by 13% during insufficient sleep versus CON, and in the WR group whole body, hepatic, and muscle insulin sensitivity decreased by 9-27% during the recurrent insufficient sleep versus CON.

These findings suggest that weekend recovery sleep does not fully repay workweek sleep loss and is not an effective strategy to prevent the metabolic dysregulation which leads to weight gain and decreased insulin sensitivity.

Depner et al., Ad libitum Weekend Recovery Sleep Fails to Prevent Metabolic Dysregulation during a Repeating Pattern of Insufficient Sleep and Weekend Recovery Sleep. Current Biology (2019), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.069

Leave Comment

(required)

(required)