Can catch-up sleep pay back your sleep debt?

Can catch-up sleep pay back your sleep debt?

For the one out of six individuals sleeping less than seven hours per night, a sleep debt may feel “normal.”1 But, similar to a financial debt, the real cost may not be immediately apparent and can be damaging with time.

Sleep debt is costly for your body, even a few nights of insufficient sleep can leave you sleepy, with slower reaction times, foggy thinking, overall decreased performance, and, perhaps, a less than sunny disposition. Less noticeable is the disruption that may happen silently inside of our body: The effects of long-term sleep deprivation can possibly lead to negative health consequences. 

Weekend catch-up sleep: does it work? 

​Extra weekend shut-eye is a coveted treasure for the sleep-deprived. While we know it makes us feel better, can those extra hours of sleep reverse the health risks of a sleep-poor Monday-Friday? 

Catch-up sleep and weight gain - studies have found a consistent link between sleep deficiency and weight gain, even over a very short time frame.2 In fact, when it comes to weight, every hour of sleep counts, not only for weight gain but also preventing it. In a study of over 2,000 participants, those who slept longer on the weekends, nearly two hours longer on average, had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t. Further, every extra hour of weekend catch-up sleep was associated with a significantly lower body mass.3 

Short-term, catch-up sleep can be helpful for paying back your sleep debt, but it shouldn’t be your only strategy. In addition to eliminating lifestyle-related sleep issues (over scheduling, limiting caffeine and electronics before bed, room temperature and darkness, etc.), you may want to consider dietary supplements that help support relaxation and healthy sleep.* 

Some ingredients that can help support rest and relaxation include: 

Magnesium glycerophosphate: Magnesium may help relieve muscle tension related to stress and help support nervous system health. However, while abundant in green, leafy vegetables, magnesium is often lacking in the standard diet. Further, it can be depleted by stress. So, magnesium deficiency is not uncommon. The glycerophosphate form enhances magnesium absorption and intestinal tolerance.*

Taurine: Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is abundant in the central nervous system, and it may play a role in regulating the brain’s chemical environment. Laboratory evidence suggests that taurine may influence GABA metabolism. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that has a calming, relaxing influence.*

Folate and vitamin B12: These vitamins are cofactors for neurotransmitter production, including serotonin. Serotonin is associated with mood, sleep, and relaxation.*

Vitamin B6: This vitamin helps the body convert glutamate (a stimulatory neurotransmitter) into GABA, which can support a calm and relaxed state.*

Melatonin - Produced and released by the pineal gland, melatonin helps regulate sleep, waking, and the body’s circadian rhythm (or time clock).* Changing time zones, evening shift work, and bright light exposure during desired sleep times can all inhibit melatonin release and potentially disrupt sleep patterns.* 

Sleep-friendly botanicals: Extracts of passionflower, hops, valerian, and Chinese skullcap provide added support for relaxation and a sense of calm. * 

There are a number of specialised formulas that contain the above ingredients which can help you relax and relieve occasional sleeplessness. * 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

See more information about sleep support supplements on VitaGene here:


  1. National Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Time. Accessed 7.19.17.

  2. Spaeth AM; Dinges DF; Goel N. Effects of experimental sleep restriction on weight gain, caloric intake, and meal timing in healthy adults. SLEEP 2013;36(7):981-990.

  3. Hee-Jin Im, MD, MMSc, Shin-Hye Baek, MD, MMSc, Min Kyung Chu, MD, PhD, Kwang Ik Yang, MD, PhD, Won-Joo Kim, MD, PhD, Seong-Ho Park, MD, PhD, Robert J. Thomas, MD, MMSc, Chang-Ho Yun, MD, PhD; Association Between Weekend Catch-up Sleep and Lower Body Mass: Population-Based Study. Sleep 2017; 40 (7): zsx089. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx089

Article supplied by Metagenics.

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