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Don’t Hit Snooze on Saturday

Bariatric surgery patients: don’t sleep in on weekendsWhy your weekend sleep-in could be contributing to weight gain

The weekend: for many of us, it’s a time of relaxation and leisure, a time of sleeping in late and staying out later. We often change our schedules entirely on the weekend in an attempt to escape from the travails of our hectic work weeks. Although sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday can feel great, new research shows that this kind of schedule switching can have detrimental health impacts by throwing our circadian rhythms out of whack.

This may be especially important for patients of LAP-BAND or another bariatric surgery, as switching your sleep schedule can result in weight gain and other health issues. Prior research has linked irregular sleep patterns and sleep deprivation to a higher risk of obesity and diseases like diabetes, but the study conducted at the Institute of Medical Psychology in Munich shows that the seemingly harmless act of catching a few more winks on the weekend may be bad for you in very much the same way.

The Study

Looking at the sleeping habits of more than 65,000 adults, the German researchers concluded that those who switch sleep schedules on the weekends triple their risks of being overweight. They liken the circadian effect of switching schedules to taking an international flight on Friday and another back again on Monday, leading them to call the condition “social jetlag.”

What links social jetlag to things like weight gain? Our bodies have natural internal clocks that regulate the times when they are best prepared to eat and digest food. Frequent changes in mealtimes can disrupt your metabolism, potentially making your body more prone to turning food into body fat. This makes living outside of your body’s natural rhythm detrimental, so developing a regular sleep schedule may be one way to naturally promote healthy weight loss.

How can I develop a better sleep schedule?

The Munich study found that a full two-thirds of its participants had a difference of at least one hour between their weekend and weekday sleep schedules, while 10 percent had a difference of at least three hours. As such, setting a regular sleep schedule would be beneficial to the majority of people in our society. Here are some tips on how to get a more regular night’s sleep:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning. Picking specific times to hit the hay and wake up will give you more exact parameters by which to regulate your circadian rhythm.
  • Keep distractions out of the bedroom. Laptops, phones, television, radio and other distracting electronics should be left behind when you crawl between the sheets. Instead, try listening to some soft music or reading a book to help relax your brain near bedtime.
  • Relax before bed. When you lie down, forget about the day’s stresses and instead prepare your mind to wind down. You can try some deep breathing exercises, visualize yourself in a tranquil environment or engage in progressive muscle relaxation to calm yourself.
  • Exercise. Just like a set sleep schedule, you should have a set exercise schedule. Exercise and healthy diet can help to ensure that you fall asleep with regularity each night.

Sleeping in on the weekend is something that many of us like to do, but unfortunately it may be doing us more harm than we realize. Developing a regular sleep schedule that you adhere to every single day of the week may be the healthiest way to approach getting a good night’s rest.


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