Fact or Myth: Is Sleeping In on the Weekends Good for Your Health?

This is MYTH.

At least according to a new study published last month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Researchers linked sleeping in on the weekends to higher metabolic risk and heart disease markers.

For 7 days, 447 men and women wore trackers that measured movement, and sleep and wake times. Of the participants, 85% went to sleep later and woke later on the weekends. Those with the most variation in sleep patterns during the weekdays versus the weekends had a significantly higher metabolic risk. Results demonstrated that sleeping in on the weekends led to lower HDL “good” cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher insulin resistance, and higher body mass index (BMI), regardless of physical activity, caloric intake, alcohol use, or other factors.

Speaking to the New York Times, lead author, Patricia M. Wong, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, explains: “It’s not clear yet that this is a long-term effect. But we think of this as people having to sleep and work out of sync with their internal clock, and that having to be out of sync may be having these health effects.”

Analyzing over 300 studies on sleep, researchers have previously cited 7-8 hours as the sweet spot for sleep each night. This new study shows that keeping these hours steady, may be the key to maintaining good health.

Can You Make Up for Lost Sleep on the Weekends? OTC sleep aids

According to Dr. Raghu Reddy, UAMS Pulmonologist and Sleep Medicine Specialist, “People can make up for lost sleep on another day. The amount of sleep lost and recovered may not be the same, though. Most of the first few hours of sleep can be recovered, but if the amount of sleep lost is more than a few hours, not all of it will be recovered.”

He sets a feasible hours lost for recovery at 5 hours, but maxes it out at 20 hours, saying that 20 hours and over are pretty much impossible to catch up on. He does add the caveat, however, that our bodies have a built-in system for dealing with a sleep deficit. “By nature our bodies try to recover as much of deep sleep and REM sleep that is lost and may forego other stages of sleep,” he says.

But probably best not to put that mechanism into overdrive if we can help it. Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep a night…consistently…and your body, mind, and overall health will be sharper for it!