Do you find yourself tossing and turning at night? If a solid night’s sleep during the week seems like a dream, you may be able reverse the damage of those restless nights by sleeping more on weekends.
A new study from the University of Chicago shows that make-up sleep reverses the metabolic damage of sleep deprivation, lowering diabetes risk. The study, which was only conducted on men, showed that lack of sleep caused a 23 percent drop in insulin sensitivity, leading to a 16 percent hike in diabetes risk. But two days of make-up sleep (averaging about 9.5 hours per night) reversed those negative health effects.
"You are going to improve your insulin sensitivity and giving yourself permission to sleep in… prevents your future diabetes risk," said Josiane Broussard, assistant research professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and one of the authors of the study.
This study has shown that the body is adaptive when it comes to sleep. While a healthy amount of sleep (between 7-9 hours a night) is always recommended, catching up every weekend can send your body back to its baseline and reduce your diabetes risk.
However, health professionals not participating in the study point out that this is a short-term solution and that chronic sleep deprivation is a bigger issue.
"This was a short-term study and often people are chronically sleep deprived," said Dr. Harneet Walia, a sleep medicine doctor at the Center for Sleep Disorders in the Neurological Institute at Cleveland Clinic. "We still don't know whether the chronic effects [of sleep deprivation] can be reversed with extra sleep on the weekend."
What’s more, the focus of the study was narrow, and the female population might have different reactions than the young, healthy men in the study. But in the end, more sleep is usually a good thing, no matter when you get it.
Here are some good ways to catch more zzzs, no matter what the day of the week:
- Stay cool. Turn down your thermostat a few degrees. A slight drop in temperature can help induce sleep.
- Lights off. Turn all your lights off, cover up digital clocks and put away your phone and other "flat panel" electronics. Apart from being distracting, it’s been determined that people are especially sensitive to the blue light these devices emit. Sleeping with the lights on also disrupts sleep and makes it hard to relax. Put on an eye mask for good measure.
- Quiet down. If you can’t sleep in a perfectly peaceful environment, consider using a sound machine, which creates a layer of white noise proven to help people fall asleep faster. If you need even more quiet than that, pop in some ear plugs. With a little investigation and careful listening, may also find your home harbors background noise pollution from appliances in need of maintenance, adjustment or replacement.
- Get comfortable. Check your bedding once or twice a year. Replace pillows that have become lumpy, flat or smell. Invest in and maintain a quality, supportive mattress. If you have allergies or are sensitive to dust, consider zippered covers for pillows and mattress to prevent dust mites
- Consume mindfully. Along with some medications, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can all be powerful sleep disruptors. If you notice troubling changes in sleep after a change in medications, dosage or the times medications are taken, discuss them with your pharmacist or physician.
If you’re still having trouble falling asleep at night, consult a primary care provider at Goshen Health.