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You Might Actually Be Able to Catch Up on Sleep, Research Suggests


Getting enough shuteye is one of the most complicated and frustrating issues that so many of us struggle with on a constant basis. In fact, research has confirmed that there isn’t just one cause for frequent sleeplessness, but that there are actually five different types of causes for insomnia. You might try things like natural remedies or special pillows to solve the problem, but a good night’s rest can still be a challenge. That’s why so many people rely on less-stressful weekends to “catch up” on sleep after a hectic work week. There’s been a large debate over whether or not you’re really helping your body by resting longer on the weekends, but a May 2018 study from the Journal of Sleep Research seems to suggest that getting those extra zzzs is a good thing.

The research is based on the survey results of more than 38,000 Swedish adults who reported on their lifestyles, medical histories, and sleep patterns during the week and weekend. The surveys were analyzed over a span of 13 years and found that there was no heightened risk of mortality rate in those who slept in on the weekends. According to the study, “The results imply that short (weekday) sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep. This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend.”

In contrast, a more recent study in February 2019 published in Current Biology by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute warns that this sleep pattern can lead to troubling weight gain. The researchers observed 36 healthy adults during a two-week stay in their sleep laboratory. They divided the participants into three groups: One that slept nine hours for nine nights, another one that slept five hours over the same period of time, and a third that only slept for five hours for five days and then slept as much as they’d like the next two days. 

The results from this study showed that those who had insufficient sleep during the week and attempted to catch up on the weekends had gained weight. They also showed a 27 percent lower insulin sensitivity, which is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Both studies acknowledge the need for more research on the subject before any definitive statements can be confirmed. 

If you’re currently battling sleepless nights on a regular basis, try talking with both physical and mental health professionals to get to the bottom of the issue. We all deserve to be well rested and energized in order to live our best lives! 

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