New Sleep Study

Weekend lie-ins ‘do not make up for sleep deprivation’, a study suggests

Researchers took two groups of healthy people and limited their sleep to no more than five hours a night.

One group had their sleep restricted for the whole study, while the other was able to catch up at the weekend.

Both groups snacked more at night, gained weight, and showed signs of deteriorating metabolic health, compared to the start of the study.

“In the end, we didn’t see any benefit in any metabolic outcome in the people who got to sleep in on the weekend,” said lead author Chris Depner, an assistant research professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Research has shown that too little sleep can increase the risk of a range of health problems, including obesity and type-2 diabetes, in part by boosting the urge to snack at night and by decreasing insulin sensitivity, or the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar.

For this new study, researchers wanted to find out what happens when people cycle back and forth between a sleep-deprived work week and two days of catch-up.

They took 36 people, aged 18 to 39, and for two weeks kept them in a laboratory, where their food intake, light exposure and sleep were monitored.

Although the numbers may appear small, experts said this was quite a large number of participants for a sleep study of this kind.

Participants were divided into three groups:

  • one was allowed no more than five hours per night over nine nights (sleep-restricted group)
  • the second was allowed no more than five hours for five days followed by a weekend when they could sleep as much as they liked before returning to two days of restricted sleep (weekend recovery group)
  • and a third was allowed plenty of time to sleep – nine hours each night for nine nights (control group)

Both sleep-restricted groups gained a small amount of weight over the course of the study (slightly more than 2.2lbs or 1kg) and became less sensitive to insulin, according to the study, published in the journal Current Biology.

While those in the recovery group saw mild improvements at the weekend (including reduced night-time snacking), those benefits went away when the sleep-restricted work week resumed.

On some health measures, the weekend recovery group had worse outcomes.

Insulin sensitivity declined by 13% in the sleep-restricted group, while in the weekend recovery group it worsened by between 9% and 27%.

One problem was that the people who were given the opportunity to catch up on sleep struggled to do so.

In the end, the recovery group achieved only 66 minutes more sleep on average at the weekend.

‘Regular schedule’

Experts not involved in the research said that although the effects on health shown in the study were small, it was possible that over months and years the impact could become large.

They said the findings reinforced existing advice that it is important to sleep enough during the week, and ideally keep a regular sleep schedule.

But if you are unable to keep to a regular sleep and wake time, it does not mean a lie-in is necessarily bad for you.

The study focused on how sleep restriction and catching up on rest at the weekend affects metabolic health, rather than, for example, mental health or cognitive ability.

Malcolm von Schantz, professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey, added: “Whilst I think we should urge everybody to work towards a regular schedule if they can, I don’t think we should tell people who don’t have that luxury that they mustn’t sleep in during the weekend.”

Original Article written by Alex Therrien – See it here

How Much Sleep Do I Need Each Night?

This question is often asked.  And the answer is normally as much as your body needs.  It’s a fact that many of us get too few hours sleep and our bodies suffer as a result of sleep deprivation.  Here’s an interesting article looking at a study into the effects of sleep and heart health.

Study reveals how many hours sleep to get each night for a healthy heart

Getting too much or too little sleep can heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease, study finds

Sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations
Sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations ( Getty )

Six to eight hours sleep a night is most beneficial for the heart. with more or less shut-eye potentially heightening the risk of coronary artery disease or a stroke, researchers have warned.

Using data from more than one million adults, scientists found that both sleep deprivation and excessive hours in bed should be avoided for optimum heart health.

Those who slept for fewer than six hours per night or more than eight hours were at an increased risk of developing or dying from coronary artery disease or a stroke, according to the study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany.

Compared to adults who got six to eight hours of slumber a night, “short sleepers” had an 11 per cent greater risk while “long sleepers” had a 33 per cent increased risk over the next nine years, the researchers said.

“Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart,” said study author Dr Epameinondas Fountas of the Onassis cardiac surgery centre in Athens.

“More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations – all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease.”

“Having the odd short night or lie-in is unlikely to be detrimental to health, but evidence is accumulating that prolonged nightly sleep deprivation or excessive sleeping should be avoided,” Dr Fountas added.

Emily McGrath, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, stressed that getting a good night’s sleep was important for good health.

She said: “When it comes to our heart and circulatory health, this large study suggests that there may be a sweet spot between getting too much, and getting too little sleep.

“This research needn’t trigger alarm bells for those of us partial to a sleepless night or a weekend lie-in. However, if you regularly struggle with your sleep, it’s an important reminder to speak to your GP.

“As well as having a negative impact on your quality of life, a lack of sleep could also be contributing to heart health problems further down the line.”

From The Independent