Nav: Home

Does extra sleep on the weekends repay your sleep debt? No, researchers say

February 28, 2019

Insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders put people at increased risk for metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes. But is extra sleep on the weekends enough to reduce those risks? The short answer, according to new findings reported in Current Biology on February 28, is "no."

"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," says Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado Boulder.

People often sleep more on weekends than they do during the week. Yet it wasn't known how returning to an insufficient sleep schedule during the workweek after a weekend of recovery sleep influences a person's metabolic health.

To find out, in the new study, researchers led by Christopher Depner and Wright enlisted healthy young adults. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first had plenty of time to sleep--9 hours--each night for 9 nights. The second had just 5 hours to sleep each night over that same period. Finally, the third slept 5 hours for 5 days followed by a weekend in which they slept as much as they liked before returning to another 2 days of restricted sleep.

In the two sleep-restricted groups, insufficient sleep led to an increase in snacking after dinner and weight gain. During ad libitum weekend recovery sleep in the third group, study participants slept an hour longer on average than they usually would. They also consumed fewer extra calories after dinner than those who got insufficient sleep.

However, when they went back to getting insufficient sleep after the weekend, their circadian body clock was timed later. They also ate more after dinner as their weight continued to rise.

The sleep restriction in the first group of participants was associated with a decrease in insulin sensitivity of about 13 percent. But the group that had a chance to sleep more on the weekend still showed less sensitivity to insulin. The insulin sensitivity of their whole bodies, liver, and muscle decreased by 9 to 27 percent after they got insufficient sleep again, once the weekend was over.

"Our findings show that muscle- and liver-specific insulin sensitivity were worse in subjects who had weekend recovery sleep," Depner says, noting that those metabolic aberrations weren't seen in the people who got less sleep all along. "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."

The Sleep Research Society and American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7 or more hours of sleep nightly for adults, to promote optimal health. The new findings add to evidence that insufficient sleep is a risk factor for metabolic disorders. It also shows that catching up on weekends isn't the solution to chronic sleep loss during the week.

Wright says that it's not yet clear whether weekend recovery sleep can be an effective health countermeasure for people who get too little sleep only occasionally--a night or two per week, perhaps. They hope to explore the fine details of these dynamics in future studies, including the influence of daytime napping and other strategies for getting more Zzzs.
-end-
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, and the Sleep Research Society Foundation.

Current Biology, Depner et al.: "Ad libitum Weekend Recovery Sleep Fails to Prevent Metabolic Dysregulation during a Repeating Pattern of Insufficient Sleep and Weekend Recovery Sleep" https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30098-3

Current Biology (@CurrentBiology), published by Cell Press, is a bimonthly journal that features papers across all areas of biology. Current Biology strives to foster communication across fields of biology, both by publishing important findings of general interest and through highly accessible front matter for non-specialists. Visit: http://www.cell.com/current-biology. To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact press@cell.com.

Cell Press

Related Insulin Articles:

Insulin signaling suppressed by decoys
The discovery of an insulin 'decoy' molecule from the lab of Matthew Gill, PhD, in Florida shakes up understanding of insulin signaling, with implications for diabetes, longevity and aging research.
New mechanism for dysfunctional insulin release identified
In a new study, researchers at Uppsala University have identified a previously unknown mechanism that regulates release of insulin, a hormone that lowers blood glucose levels, from the β-cells (beta cells) of the pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes is not just about insulin
Obesity, by promoting the resistance to the action of insulin, is a major risk factor of diabetes.
The insulin under the influence of light
By understanding how the brain links the effects of insulin to light, researchers (UNIGE) are deciphering how insulin sensitivity fluctuates according to circadian cycles.
Does insulin resistance cause fibromyalgia?
Researchers led by a team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston were able to dramatically reduce the pain of fibromyalgia patients with medication that targeted insulin resistance.
Insulin insights
Insulin triggers genome-wide changes in gene expression via an unexpected mechanism.
One in four patients say they've skimped on insulin because of high cost
For patients with diabetes, insulin is a life-saving medicine and an essential component of diabetes management, yet in the past decade alone, the out-of-pocket costs for insulin have doubled in the United States.
Patients report skimping on insulin because of cost
In a small survey of patients at an urban diabetes center, 1 in 4 reported skimping on their prescribed insulin because of cost and this was associated with poor glycemic control.
Human insulin as safe and effective to treat type 2 diabetes as costlier insulin analogs
Patients with Type 2 diabetes who were treated with the newer generation of insulin analog drugs did not have substantially better outcomes than those treated with less costly human insulin, according to a study by Yale School of Medicine researchers and colleagues at Kaiser Permanente.
Delivering insulin in a pill
Harvard researchers have developed an oral delivery method that could dramatically transform the way in which diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in check.
More Insulin News and Insulin Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.