Catch-up Sleep on Weekends May Be Causing More Harm than Good

Disruptions in sleep schedules can cause problems even for healthy adults.

Those of us who work long hours during the week like to sleep in on the weekends and try to catch up on the sleep lost during the week.

But, according to a story on UPI, that disruption of your normal sleep pattern may be causing a number of other health related issues to your body.

New research from the University of Pittsburgh is revealing that social jetlag, defined as a mismatch between a person’s normal circadian rhythm and their socially-imposed sleep schedule, can lead to conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular problems, even in otherwise healthy people.

The study looked at 447 people that worked at least 25 hours outside of the home, and were between the ages of 30 and 54, and considered healthy.  The participants in the study were 53 percent women and 83 percent of them were white.

All the subjects in the study wore wristbands to monitor their sleep and movements 24 hours a day, even while bathing, and completed questionnaires concerning their normal diet and exercise habits.

The research revealed that 85 percent of those participating had a later halfway point in their sleep cycle, called midsleep, on their off days when compared to their work days, and the other 15 percent had the opposite.

After the observation period, the participants were subjected to a number of tests and it was found the persons with the highest differences in their schedule of sleeping from work days to off days, had worse cholesterol levels, higher insulin levels, and a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) that their counterparts.

Patricia Wong, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, said though future studies need to be done on larger populations, this research could lead to clinical interventions based on a person’s circadian disturbances.  She added that workplace education could help employees and families to make an informed decision about how to set up a work schedule to minimize the detriment to their health, and encouraged employers to take this into consideration.

Wong said this study was the first to extend the investigation into the link of social jetlag on healthy people, and revealed that the condition can cause problems even among healthy working adults.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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