Trying to lose weight? Catching up on sleep after a busy week is linked to lower BMI

Catching up on lost sleep over the weekend may help keep you slim, new research suggests.

Not getting enough shut eye at night can disrupt hormones and metabolism and is known to raise the risk of obesity.

Those who don’t get enough sleep tend to snack more and are less likely to move – leading to bulging waistlines, scientists said.

But having a lie-in on Saturday and Sunday can help regulate the damage caused by busy weeks at work and delayed bed times.

South Korean experts found a significant link between the more catch up sleep a person got and the lower their BMI.

Lead author Dr Chang-Ho Yun, of the Seoul National University Budang Hospital, South Korea, said sleeping in is more beneficial than napping.

This is because the sleep is much deeper, allowing the body to catch up and restore itself and its functions.

The dangers of short sleep

Dr Yun said: ‘Short sleep, usually causing sleep debt, is common and inevitable in many cases, and is a risk factor for obesity, hypertension, coronary heart disease, as well as mortality.’

Dr Jean-Philippe Chaput, of the University of Ottawa in Canada, who wasn’t involved in the study, said short sleepers tend to eat more meals per day.

He also told Reuters that they ‘snack more, engage in more screen time and may be less likely to move due to increased sensations of fatigue when not rested’.

Sleep as much as possible on the weekend

Dr Chaput added: ‘If you cannot sleep sufficiently on workdays because of work or social obligations, try to sleep as much as possible on the weekend. It might alleviate the risk for obesity.’

How was the study carried out?

For the latest study, researchers quizzed around 2,000 people who ranged in age from 19 to 82 years old.

Volunteers were asked about their height, weight, sleeping habits, mood and any medical conditions.

This data was then used to determine BMI, and whether participants engaged in catch-up sleep on weekends.

Weekend catch-up sleep was defined as sleeping more hours on weekend nights compared to weekday nights.

What did they find?

About 43 per cent of people slept longer on weekends by nearly two hours than they did on weekdays.

People who slept-in on weekends tended to sleep shorter hours during weekdays, but slept more hours overall across the week.

The researchers found those who slept-in on weekends had average BMIs of 22.8 while those who didn’t engage in catch-up sleep averaged 23.1.

Writing in the journal Sleep, they said that this amount was a small but statistically meaningful difference.

In addition, the more catch up sleep a person got, the lower their BMI tended to be, with each additional hour linked to a 0.12 decrease in BMI.

Seven hours is the minimum amount of sleep for adults recommended by the NHS, while officials in the US recommend the same amount.

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