Young man lying in bed pulling the bed sheets over his face

Sleeping until noon on Saturday and Sunday offers no protection from the effect of a sleep deficit built up Monday through Friday. Credit: Eric Anthony Johnson/Getty

Metabolism

Weekend lie-ins don’t compensate for week-long exhaustion

Catching up on sleep over the weekend doesn’t undo the negative metabolic effects of sleep deprivation.

Getting extra sleep at weekends probably isn’t enough to reduce health risks related to insufficient sleep during exhausting working weeks, according to a short-term study of young adults.

Lack of sleep has been linked to a range of disorders, including diabetes and heart disease. Kenneth Wright at the University of Colorado Boulder and his colleagues studied what happens when people try to compensate for insufficient sleep during the week by sleeping late at weekends.

The team found that a group of 14 young adults who slept for only 5 hours each night for 9 consecutive nights snacked more after dinner, gained more weight and exhibited reduced insulin sensitivity compared with a control group of adults who slept up to 9 hours each night. In a third group, an additional 14 participants slept only 5 hours per night during the working week, but were then allowed to sleep as much as they wanted over the weekend. Even so, during the subsequent week, the negative metabolic effects of sleeplessness persisted.