After a week with long days of work and short nights, most of us tend to use the weekend as a moment to catch up some extra sleep. That sounds like a wise thing to do. Unfortunately, recent research shows that keeping up this sleeping pattern for a long time isn’t really healthy.
Paulien Barf and her colleagues tested the effect of chronic sleep deprivation on the behaviour of rodent models and on their metabolic system. Previous studies in rodents had showed that such a deprivation led to increased metabolism and weight loss. But this didn’t correspond to epidemiological studies in humans, in which sleep deprivation was associated with a gain in body weight. Barf et al. have now discovered that this remarkable difference is caused by a disturbance of the sleep deprivation pattern.
A group of rodents was deprived of sleep for a period of four weeks, with each week consisting of a 5-day period of sleep restriction followed by a 2-day period of sleep allowance. After the first week, the rats showed an increased food intake during the five ‘work days’. On top, the rodents showed a significant weight gain in the ‘weekends’, even when their food intake was normal compared to control groups.
The research makes clear that although it may sometimes be a good thing to catch up some sleep, it is not recommendable to keep this rhythm up for a long period. Science just proved what your parents used to tell you: to keep yourself healthy, go to bed in time and get yourself some regularity!
Source: de Volkskrant
Barf, Paulien; Desprez, Tifany; Meerlo, Peter; Scheurink, Anton J.W. “Increased food intake and changes in metabolic hormones in response to chronic sleep restriction alternated with short periods of sleep allowance.” In: American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology (2012). Doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00326.2011.