Mind

Weekend sleep-ins are good for us after all

We have great news. New research flouts the advice we've been hearing for the past few years that sleeping in is no good for us. Turns out it is okay.

It turns out sleeping in is good for us.

By the time Friday rolls around, most of us are exhausted. After a five-day stint of going to work, wrangling the kids and all of the other life admin stuff in between it's downright exciting to know that on Saturday morning the alarm doesn't have to go off at 6am.

The problem is that for the past few years sleep experts have been telling us that sleeping in is no good for our health, and that we should be getting up at around the same time every morning, whether we have to go to work or not. What a drag.

So imagine our excitement when we found out this: Emerging research that was recently published in the journal Sleep suggests that sleeping in on weekends could actually have some benefits.

For the study, researchers in South Korea compared the sleep habits of 2000 adults to their body mass indexes (BMI).

Your BMI is a measure of your weight relative to your height, and is used by health experts to calculate whether you're a healthy body weight, and identify potential health risks that are linked to obesity.

On average, researchers found that those who slept too little throughout the week and caught up on sleep on the weekends had slightly lower BMIs (22.8) than those who slept too little and did not compensate on weekends. Their BMIs averaged 23.1, which is statistically significant, since every extra hour of weekend sleep equated to 0.12 lower BMI.

This could be due to the fact that people who catch up on sleep on weekends clock more total hours of sleep, and getting too little of it can disrupt your hormones and metabolism in a way that sets the stage for potential side effects, including obesity, according to the study authors.

Meanwhile, sleep experts uphold that the more you sleep, the better, because when you're well-rested you're more likely to make good choices around exercise and eating well.

Adjusting your sleep schedule to accommodate your social life (or Netflix habits) can throw off your body's natural circadian rhythm, resulting in worse health, moodiness, and fatigue, so it's still preferable to hit the sack and wake up at around the same time each day, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. At least seven hours of sleep each night is the recommendation for adults.

But the upshot is, if you don't get enough sleep through the week, catching up on weekends could be your next best bet — at least when it comes to keeping your BMI in check.

"Weekend sleep extension may have biological protective effects in preventing sleep-restriction induced or related obesity," the authors conclude in their study.

Although their findings prove correlation, not causation, and more research is needed, the results at least mean we don't a have to feel so guilty about snuggling back down under the duvet on those lazy weekend mornings.