Research: Catch up sleep will not help you metabolism


Sleeping more on weekends will not recover the sleep debt impact on your metabolism.



In today’s on-the-go culture, we spend a lot of our lives in a state so sleep deprivation.   We struggle to find enough time in the day to accomplish family, me, and work time so often we skip multiple hours of sleep to live the best lives that we can.  There is plenty of research to show that chronic sleep deprivation leads to increase stress, overeating, and an expansion of the waistline.  

Also, research has shown that a lack of sleep or a lower quality sleep has a negative effect on your metabolism.   It would make sense that you could make up sleep on the weekend and thus lower the impact on your metabolism and waistline.  The problem is there is limited research to back up this hypothesis.  

The good news is that new research has been performed to look at this very question and the results are alarming.  The study appeared in the February 2019 issue of Current Biology[1]The researchers looked at whether an increase in sleep duration on the weekend was useful to recover from sleep loss incurred during the workweek.  They specifically looked at whether weekend recovery sleep prevents metabolic dysregulation caused by recurrent insufficient sleep.  

The study was a randomized control study that looked at a control group with 9-hours of sleep versus a group with sleep restriction without weekend recovery sleep and a group with sleep restriction with weekend recovery sleep.  In both sleep deprivation groups, insufficient sleep resulted in an increased after-dinner energy intake and body weight.  The problem is that the researchers found that insulin sensitivity of the weekend sleep recovery group was significantly lower in the other two groups and that includes the group that was not allowed to recover sleep.  Most importantly, the weekend recovery group actually gained additional weight.

The bottom line: Building a healthy sleep schedule with repeatable timing and duration of sleep is key to a healthy life and weight.  Recovery sleep does not appear to be a useful mechanism to reverse the metabolic and weight gain effects of sleep deprivation during the work week.  In fact, the practice appears to make the metabolic effects worse than if they had not tried to recover sleep.  The put it bluntly, recovery sleep is not an effective strategy to prevent obesity.  


C. M. 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, Feb. 2019 [Online]. Available: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.069″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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