Lazy Young Woman Sleeping on Bed Instead of Morning Training

Debunking the Myths of Catch-Up Sleep

Does the practice of sleeping in on weekends truly compensate for lackluster weekday slumber, or does it merely result in unwanted weight gain? The answer lies in the realm of science.

Unpacking the Relationship Between Sleep and Weight

In the fitness world, it's no secret that sleep is a crucial component of success, whether your goal is muscle gain or fat loss. A recent meta-study, which serves as a conglomerate of various studies, arrived at a resounding consensus – most individuals require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal health. In stark contrast, those who managed a meager 6 hours or less per night were frequently plagued by an array of health issues. Moreover, their perpetually irritable disposition likely didn't endear them to those around them.

But what about the cumulative weekly sleep total? Can you offset the repercussions of missed hours by indulging in weekend "catch-up" sleep, as researchers term it? And does this have any bearing on your body mass index (BMI), a measurement that, while not without its flaws, proves functional for non-athletes?

The Real Story Behind Sleep and Weight Gain

Inadequate sleep unleashes havoc upon your physique by heightening the risk of obesity and wreaking havoc on your metabolism. It accomplishes this through the elevation of ghrelin levels, while concurrently diminishing leptin levels. This hormonal seesaw results in increased appetite, greater caloric intake, and suboptimal glucose utilization. Clearly, not an ideal scenario.

In a recent investigation, 2836 subjects were recruited to participate. After a meticulous analysis of their sleeping patterns, they were categorized into two distinct groups: the "weekend catch-up sleepers" (CUS) and the "non-CUS" counterparts. Astonishingly, the weekend catch-up sleepers managed to attain a significantly lower predicted BMI compared to their non-CUS peers. This occurred despite the catch-up sleepers logging fewer weekday hours of slumber. Instead, they compensated by extending their sleep duration on weekends.

The Conclusion: A Shield Against Weight Gain

The researchers reached a compelling conclusion: "Compensatory sleep extension on weekends may have a protective role against weight gain due to chronic partial sleep loss."

In essence, the verdict is clear – strive to maximize your sleep duration each night. However, if the demands of your weekday routine result in insufficient rest, don't hesitate to seize the opportunity for extended slumber on the weekends. By doing so, you can bolster your overall weekly sleep total and mitigate the risks associated with unwelcome weight gain.

Kayla Thomas


Kayla Thomas, a 34-year-old sports and fitness coach living in Connecticut, USA. With seven years of hands-on experience, she's all about helping folks get fit and strong. Kayla's fitness journey began when she was a sports-loving kid, and she followed her passion to college, where she earned a degree in Exercise Science and picked up personal training and sports coaching certifications. But what really lights her up is empowering women through fitness, breaking barriers and making fitness feel welcoming for everyone. Her clients see her as not just a coach but a motivating friend. In her downtime, you'll find her swimming and cycling, always on the move. And you can follow her fitness journey on Instagram – she's all about sharing that empowerment vibe.