People who slept no more than five hours a day Monday through Friday, then slept as long as they liked on Saturdays and Sundays, gained weight and showed 27 percent lower insulin sensitivity. Photo by Wokandapix/Pixabay
Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Sleeping longer hours on the weekends won't help restore a person's body if they missed sleep during the week, a new study says.
People who slept no more than five hours a day Monday through Friday, then slept as long as they liked on Saturdays and Sundays gained weight and showed 27 percent lower insulin sensitivity, according to research published Thursday in Current Biology.
In fact, playing catch-up on weekends only provides mild recovery results, the researchers say.
"Our findings suggest that the common behavior of burning the candle during the week and trying to make up for it on the weekend is not an effective health strategy," said Kenneth Wright, who runs the sleep center at the University of Colorado and study senior author, in a news release.
The researchers observed three groups, one that slept nine hours a night, a second group that slept no more than five hours a night and a third that slept no more than five hours a night during weekdays, then as long as they wanted on weekends.
On average, the weekend group ultimately got about 66 minutes of extra sleep. However, they ate more on weeknights, causing their weight gain.
"In the end, we didn't see any benefit in any metabolic outcome in the people who got to sleep in on the weekend," said Chris Depner, a researcher at University of Colorado and study author.
The weekend group also saw a decreased ability to process sugar, a key to developing type 2 diabetes.
"It could be that the yo-yoing back and forth-changing the time we eat, changing our circadian clock and then going back to insufficient sleep is uniquely disruptive," Wright said.
"This study demonstrates the importance of getting sufficient sleep on a regular schedule," said Michael Twery, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "Frequently changing sleep schedules is a form of stress associated with metabolic abnormalities."