Study: Sleeping In on Weekends Can Help to Reduce Risk of Diabetes

Study: Sleeping In on Weekends Can Help to Reduce Risk of Diabetes

For most of us, the natural response to make up for shorter sleep hours on busy weekdays is to sleep in on weekends.

Healthcare professionals have warned that lack of sleep can increase one’s risk of developing diabetes. However, researchers at the University of Chicago’s sleep laboratory have found that getting two consecutive nights of extended sleep per week appears to counteract the increased risk of diabetes caused by short-term sleep restriction during the work week.

“In this short-term study, we found that two long nights spent catching up on lost sleep can reverse the negative metabolic effects of four consecutive nights of restricted sleep,” Josiane Broussard, Ph.D., the author of the study, explained.

 

Details of the Study

A sample size of 19 volunteers consisting of healthy young men was recruited for the study.

During the first phase, the volunteers were allowed to sleep normally – spending 8.5 hours in bed for four nights. In phase 2, the same volunteers were sleep deprived and allowed only 4.5 hours in bed for four consecutive nights. Subsequently, the sleep-deprived volunteers were allowed 2 nights of extended sleep, during which they averaged 9.7 hours of sleep.

The researchers then tested the subjects’ insulin sensitivity (the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars in the body) and the disposition index (a predictor of diabetes risk). After four nights of sleep restriction, the subjects’ insulin sensitivity decreased by 23% while their diabetes risk increased by 16%. On the other hand, the insulin sensitivity and diabetes risk bounced back to normal sleep levels after recuperating with two nights of extended sleep.

Esra Tasali, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, stated that young, healthy individuals who occasionally fail to get sufficient sleep during the work week can reduce their diabetes risk by catching up on loss sleep during the weekend.

However, Broussard made it clear that although there is evidence that weekend catch-up sleep may help someone recover from a sleep-deprived week, the study was conducted over a short period of time and the subjects went through the process only once. “Going forward, we intend to study the effects of extended weekend sleep schedules in people who do not get sufficient sleep on weekdays frequently,” Broussard affirmed.

 

To minimise health risks related to lack of sleep, it is important to get adequate sleep throughout the course of the week. On the next page, Dr Lim Li Ling from the Sleep Disorders Unit at Singapore General Hospital shares some tips on getting a good night’s sleep.

 

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