Most of us sleep in on weekends, taking advantage of time off to recuperate, especially if we’ve had a draining week. A new study claims that no matter how much we nap and sleep in on weekends there’s no way of eliminating the negative side effects that come with an irregular sleep schedule.
The research, published on Current Biology, analyzed patients who only slept five hours throughout the week. Although these patients were free to nap and sleep in on weekends, they still gained an average of three pounds after two weeks of following the regimen, with their metabolisms experiencing disruptions that increased their odds of developing diabetes.
“These health effects are long-term. It’s kind of like smoking once was—people would smoke and wouldn’t see an immediate effect on their health, but people will say now that smoking is not a healthy lifestyle choice. I think sleep is in the early phase of where smoking used to be,” says Kenneth Wright, director of the sleep and chronobiology laboratory at the University of Colorado.
Experts on sleep habits believe it necessary for people to change their perspectives regarding sleep, and that they should try their hardest to maintain it’s balance and equilibrium. At the end of the day, it’s not about how much sleep you clock in at the end of the week, it’s about maintaining a healthy and sustainable sleep schedule.
Sleep deprivation is a serious matter, contributing to health issues like weight gain, risk of diabetes, heart disease, stress and more. The participants analyzed were all healthy, with no medical problems of any sort, yet they still experienced health damages. Although the long term side effects of sleep deprivation are still unknown, studies like this one prove that the conversation surrounding sleep should evolve, and that people should take sleep as seriously as getting enough exercise and maintaining a balanced diet.