Research published recently in the journal Sleep finds that up to six years after the birth of a child, many mothers and fathers still don't sleep as much as they did before their child was born. For parents, there's just less time in the day to devote to yourself.
So, can you catch up on sleep? That partly depends on how much sleep you've missed.
A study in the current issue of Current Biology points to just how quickly the adverse effects of sleep deprivation can kick in. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder recruited a bunch of young, healthy adults who agreed to a stay in a sleep lab. Some were allowed to sleep no more than five hours per night for five consecutive days.
"After five days, people [gained] as much as 5 pounds," says study author Christopher Depner, who studies the links between sleep loss and metabolic diseases. Lack of sleep can throw off the hormones that regulate appetite, he explains, so people tend to eat more.
Depner and his colleagues also documented a decrease in insulin sensitivity among the sleep-deprived participants. "In some people, it decreased to a level where they'd be considered pre-diabetic," he says. Presumably, that rise in blood sugar would be only temporary in these young, healthy people. But it's a striking indicator of how much a lack of sleep can influence metabolism.
And, even after a weekend of catch-up sleep, the participants still gained as much weight as those in the study who had not been allowed to get the extra weekend sleep.
So, bottom line: It can be hard for our metabolism to recover from a week of sleep deprivation, and — over time — chronic sleep loss can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Read more: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/03/24/npr-strategies-to-catch-up-on-lost-sleep