Weekend "catch-up sleep" is a lie


Researchers have long known that habitual sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain and other health risks, including diabetes. But for those who force themselves to get up with blue eyes every day of the week after too few hours of closure, the hope is eternal that the outbreak of the alarm Saturday and Sunday will help pay off the weekly sleep debt and to reverse the perverse effects.

The research, published in Current Biology, destroys these hopes. Despite the complete freedom to sleep and take a nap during the weekend recovery period, participants in a sleep lab limited to five hours of sleep on weekdays gained nearly three pounds in two weeks and underwent a metabolic disruption that would increase their risk of long-term diabetes. term. Although weekend restorative sleep had some benefits after only one week of insufficient sleep, these gains were reversed when people returned to their programs the same day, deprived of sleep, the following Monday.

"If there is a benefit to catch-up sleep, it will go away when you get back into the routine, and it's going to be short-lived," said Kenneth Wright, director of the University of Colorado Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory in Boulder. . supervised the work. "These health effects are long-term. It's a bit like smoking, people would smoke and see no immediate effect on their health, but now they will say that smoking is not a healthy lifestyle choice. I think that sleeping is in the early phase of where smoking was. "

Clifford Saper, head of neurology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, called the study "compelling and fascinating."

Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona, said the study reinforced the need for people to no longer think about the sleep like a balance sheet. Imagine a person who ate only cheeseburgers and fries, Monday through Friday, but who only ate celery and kale on the weekends and was trying to call it a healthy diet, did not they? he declares. Drastically cutting calories all week and then eating a Saturday giant pizza would not restore balance. That's what they do, it's basically what people do when they do not sleep on weekdays, with the idea that they can compensate for the weekend.

"When you talk about something as complex as metabolism, it's a lot of balance and balance, and when you're looking for a number of hours and you're try to add them up, it is not a question of balance, "Grandner said. .

According to Wright, the study suggests that people should prioritize sleep – by eliminating optional "sleep thieves" such as watching TV shows or spending time on electronic devices. Even when people do not have the choice to lose their sleep because of their parental responsibilities or work schedules, they should think about prioritizing sleep in the same way as a diet. healthy or exercise.

With respect to understanding the long-term impacts of lack of sleep on weekdays and long weekend periods, it will be important to extend research beyond the artificial conditions and short time frame of the day. 39, laboratory experience. The researchers also found an intriguing difference between the sexes, in which women slept less well at weekends and could better control their eating behavior than men, but suffered the same metabolic dysfunction, as measured by changes in the body. responded to blood glucose.

"These were incredibly healthy people, with no medical problems, no psychiatric disorders, no drug use, no drugs, no sleep problems, nothing at all – so when we put them on these types of things. they have the best possible results, as far as we can tell, the risk of adverse health effects is as low as possible, "Wright said.

This article was written by Carolyn Johnson, Washington Post reporter.

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