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Sleeping in on the Weekends can Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Study Says

Update Date: Jan 19, 2016 10:35 AM EST
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Hitting the snooze button on the weekends can help with one's type 2 diabetes risk, a new study is reporting.

For this study, the team headed by Josiane Broussard examined the relationship between sleep patterns and diabetes risk in 19 young male participants who were all considered to be healthy. The participants were also given a calorie-controlled diet to follow during the study.

In the first part of the study, the researchers allowed the participants to sleep up to 8.5 hours per night for four straight days. The average amount of sleep they got per night was 7.8 hours. After the fourth night, the researchers assessed their diabetes risk via a glucose tolerance test.

In the second part of the study, the participants were only allowed to sleep from 1 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. for four straight nights. The men slept an average of 4.3 hours per night. After the fourth night, the researchers conducted the same glucose tolerance test.

The team then set out to see if sleeping in on the weekend could affect their diabetes risk. The participants were allowed to sleep up to 12 hours on the first day of recovery. On the second day, they were allowed to sleep up to 10 hours. The men slept an average of 9.7 hours per night.

The team found that sleep restriction for four nights caused a 23 percent decrease in insulin sensitivity and a 16 percent decline in disposition index, which is another key measurement of diabetes risk. Both measurements, however, returned back to normal after the participants spent two nights catching up on their sleep.

"I have to say that this is a small, very short-term controlled study involving only healthy men," Broussard, who is an assistant research professor with the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said reported by HealthDay via U.S. News and World Report. "In real life, you'd be losing sleep week in and week out, so we don't know whether catch-up sleep can give you this kind of risk improvement in that context. But the good take-away from this work is that at least in terms of diabetes risk, it seems that you're not necessarily totally screwed if you experience sleep loss."

Critics noted that although the study was very well controlled, it only looked at the effects of sleeping in after one week of losing sleep.

"This is one of the first well-controlled studies on the effects of sleep recovery on blood glucose regulation, using a relevant weekday-weekend sleep restriction-recovery design," Frank Scheer, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, commented. "Follow-up studies are needed to test whether weekend sleep recovery is as effective when the weekday restricted sleep occurs repeatedly, week after week, as is common in many of us."

Scheer, who was not involved with the study, is also a neuroscientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston

"The results from the present study are unlikely to be fully reflective of what may occur in persons who are older, overweight or obese, or have other potent risk factors for diabetes," James Gangwisch, a researcher at Columbia University who was not a part of the study, said to FOX News. "By catching up on sleep on the weekends, people are reducing average extent and severity of the effects of sleep deprivation. Ideally, we would all get sufficient sleep on a nightly basis."

The study was published in Diabetes Care.

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