Sleep on it: Indulge in weekend lie-ins to stay healthy

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Catching up on lost sleep over weekends may help people keep their weight down, according to a study.
Not getting enough sleep can disrupt hormones and metabolism and is known to increase the risk of obesity , researchers wrote in the journal `Sleep’. “Short sleep, usually causing sleep debt, is common and inevitable in many cases, and is a risk factor for obesity, hypertension, coronary heart disease, as well as mortality ,” lead author Chang-Ho Yun of the Seoul National University Budang Hospital said.

Sleeping in may be better than napping, as the sleep may be deeper and follows the body’s sleep-wake rhythms more closely, Yun said.

To determine how weekend sleep is related to body weight, the researchers used data from a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 people who ranged in age from 19 to 82 years old. Researchers asked participants about their height and weight, weekday and weekend sleep habits, mood and medical conditions. The study team used this information to determine BMI, a measure of weight relative to height, and whether participants engaged in catchup sleep on weekends.

Weekend catch-up sleep was defined as sleeping more hours on weekend nights compared to weekday nights.

On average, the participants slept 7.3 hours per night and had BMIs of 23, which falls in the healthy range.

About 43% of people slept longer on weekends by nearly two hours. People who slept-in on weekends tended to sleep shorter hours during weekdays, but slept more hours overall across the week. The researchers’ analysis found that those who slept in on weekends had average BMI of 22.8 while those who didn’t averaged 23.1, which was a small but statistically meaningful difference.

“Short sleepers tend to eat more meals… engage in more screen time and may be less likely to move due to increased sensations of fatigue when not rested,” said Jean-Philippe Chaput of the University of Ot tawa in Canada, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Sleep experts say that if people need an alarm clock to wake up it is a sign that they don’t sleep enough,” he said.

“If you cannot sleep sufficiently on workdays because of work or social obligations, try to sleep as much as possible on the weekend. It might alleviate the risk for obesity . Weekend sleep extension could be a quick fix to compensate sleep loss over the week but is not an ultimate solution for chronic sleep loss,” Yun cautioned.


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