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Can you Really Catch up on Sleep?

When it comes to sleep patterns, every night counts. Insufficient sleep can disrupt metabolism, and it is a risk factor for obesity and diabetes, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Still, approximately a third of US adults sleep fewer than the recommended 7 hours a night.

A recent study, done by JAMA, proved just how important getting the proper amount of sleep every night is to your health. The study’s results showed that it is impossible to “catch up” on sleep. For example, if you have a late night during the week, sleeping in on the weekend to make up for the lost sleep does not improve symptoms.

The Study

The study by JAMA separated participants into 3 categories for 9 nights.

  1. Controlled sleep: 9 hours a night
  2. Restricted sleep: 5 hours a night
  3. 5 hours on weekday and unlimited sleep on weekends

Both restricted groups, 2 and 3, had similar side effects. They consumed 500-700 extra calories a night, were less sensitive to insulin and gained an average of 3 lbs within the 9 day study.

For best practice, if you have a late night, continue your normal sleeping pattern instead of trying to “catch up on sleep” a different night, according to the Sleep Foundation.

How to catch Up on Sleep Properly

For many people, it can be almost impossible to have a regulated sleep pattern due to job shifts and other life complications. Although there is no way to recoup after lost sleep, there are ways to better your sleep when it is time. Below are tips from the Sleep Foundation on how to better regulate your sleep.

  • Take short nap breaks when you can
  • Wear sleep masks or dark glasses to block out the sun when sleeping during the day
  • Keep the same bed time and wake schedule even on weekends
  • Avoid caffeinated food and drinks near bed time
  • Avoid alcohol

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