Sleeping in on weekends could lead to health problems

It’s very tempting to take advantage of the weekend and catch up on all those lost hours of sleep. But a new study suggests that sleeping in on the weekend is not as healthy as it sounds, and may trigger certain health issues.

The University of Pittsburgh study claims that sleeping late on weekends, or whenever your rest days are, is associated with metabolic issues, such as insulin resistance and a higher body mass index. Abrupt or regular changes in sleep schedules, the report adds, could awaken sleeping giants of medical conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This is the first study to particularly link sleep shifts to poor metabolism, regardless of their economic status or whether a person smokes or not, or whether they have any existing sleep disorders.

 A team of researchers led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Patricia Wong tracked sleep habits, diets, and overall health of almost 450 healthy, middle-aged individuals over a span of seven days. Each of the participants wore motion-monitoring accelerometers on their wrist, allowing the team to record their exact sleep schedules. The study specifically looked at sleep habits at least a night or more before a day off, allowing Wong’s team to keep track of working day and rest day sleep schedules and the differences between them.

About 85 percent of the participants did the usual “sleeping in” routine during rest days, while the remaining 15 percent decided to sleep earlier. All in all, nobody in the study had similar day- off sleep schedules to their workday schedules. And it was discovered that paying for “sleep debt,” or sleeping longer on weekends to catch up on lost hours of sleep, does have a connection to health problems.

The researchers believe that this new study could be one step towards proving how modern work and social schedules could be bad for our overall health. “There could be benefits to clinical interventions focused on circadian disturbances, workplace education to help employees and their families make informed decisions about structuring their schedules, and policies to encourage employers to consider these issues,” said Wong.

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