If you've been planning a massive lie-in this weekend, you might want to reconsider.
Many of us spend our working weeks jetting from home to work and back again, enduring the lack of sleep by promising ourselves we would make up for it at the weekend. Consistently running on little sleep is unhealthy anyway, but this weekend routine might be even more so.
A new study has claimed that those who make up for lost sleep at the weekend are more at risk of gaining excess weight, as they tend to snack more and have a higher risk of diabetes.
Surprisingly, the people who caught up on sleep on the weekends had an even higher risk of weight gain and diabetes than those who didn't get more sleep on the weekends.
Carried out by the University of Colorado Boulder and published in the journal Current Biology, the study seems to show that consistently good sleep is vital for controlling weight and appetite. For those trying to lose weight but stalling despite their hard work, this could be an a-ha moment, as sleep is crucial for good metabolic health.
The study was carried out by enlisting 36 healthy adults aged between 18 and 39 and having them stay in a laboratory for two weeks, during which time their food, light exposure, and sleep were monitored.
These people were divided between three groups, with the first getting nine hours' sleep a night for nine days, the second getting five hours' sleep over the same amount of days and the third getting five hours' sleep, over five nights but with the freedom to sleep as much as they want over the weekend.
It was found that the latter groups snacked more at night, gained weight and showed declines in insulin activity, which is a key warning sign for diabetes.
But between the two sleep-deprived groups, the one with plenty of sleep over the weekend saw an average reduction of 27% in insulin activity while the other group saw just 13%.
"Our findings suggest that the common behavior of burning the candle during the week and trying to make up for it on the weekend is not an effective health strategy," said senior author Kenneth Wright.
So maybe this weekend rather than a four-hour lie-in, go for a four-hour brunch or hike!