Catching up on sleep over the weekend may reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a small study from the University of Chicago.
While previous research has linked "catch-up" sleep to weight gain and disturbances in the regular sleep cycle, the new findings suggest that recovering lost sleep can restore insulin sensitivity to normal levels.
The study included 19 healthy, young male volunteers.
"We found that two long nights spent catching up on lost sleep can reverse the negative metabolic effects of four consecutive nights of restricted sleep," said study author Josiane Broussard, PhD.
Sleep deprivation's devastating consequences
While the study's findings are encouraging for sleep-deprived individuals, the authors warn that even short-term sleep loss can lead to cognitive problems, inflammation and high blood pressure. It can also increase the risk of developing diabetes by 16 percent - which is comparable to the risk that comes from being obese.
The men in the study were in a controlled environment - where they were allowed to sleep only 4.5 hours for four consecutive nights and then allowed to sleep for about 9 hours 2 consecutive nights.
After the four nights of sleep deprivation, insulin sensitivity decreased by 23 percent, but bounced back to normal after the men got more sleep.
The participants also ate a controlled diet, which may have influenced the results. Still, researchers are hopeful based on the findings.
"The metabolic response to this extra sleep was very interesting and encouraging," said senior author Esra Tasali, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "It shows that young, healthy people who sporadically fail to get sufficient sleep during the work week can reduce their diabetes risk if they catch up on sleep during the weekend."