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Healthy Sleep

4 min read

a sleep study: are lie-ins bad for your health?

written by Simon Anthony

updated 08.11.2021

Woman asleep in the morning - Are lie-ins bad for your health?

A morning in bed may seem like the perfect start to your weekend, but a Saturday morning lie-in could be bad for your health according to a study by the Medical Research Council. This study explored one of the many bad sleeping habits that risks causing health problems. Let’s find out more…

what is a lie in?

A lie-in refers to the act of staying in bed longer than usual, typically to catch up on sleep or enjoy a relaxed morning.

what is a sleep study?

Sleep studies are scientific tests conducted to monitor sleep patterns and identify sleep disorders. Sleep plays a crucial role in physical and mental health, so, understanding sleep through studies can aid in diagnosing and treating sleep-related issues and result in improved overall well-being.

what did the sleep study involve?

The main aim of this sleep study was to discover what effect lie-ins had on your health. It involved analysing the sleeping habits, weight, and height of 800 people. It focused on 'social jet lag', which is the term used to describe the difference in someone’s sleep patterns between workdays and days off – otherwise known as your lie-in at the weekend.

sleep study: the results

The results showed that the difference in sleep patterns between workdays and days off, and those who were socially jet-lagged, were more likely to be at risk of obesity and developing diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, if you are used to getting up at 7 am on a workday, but regularly sleep in until 9 am on a day off, you are increasing your risk of health issues – the study found even a two-hour difference in sleep patterns was enough to be problematic.

The reasons behind the increase in health risks are not entirely clear, but one possibility is that changes in sleep patterns could affect our appetite hormones and activate our genes that process fats and sugars correctly, at the wrong time of day. An effective way to combat 'social jet lag' is to start thinking twice about snacking and ditching sugary or fatty foods during your workday.

The lead study author, Michael Parsons, concluded, "Unlike jet lag from travelling, social jet lag is more likely to trigger health problems because it occurs regularly. I don't want to tell people not to have a lie-in because I enjoy one myself."

But It's not all bad news, lazing in bed occasionally will not cause you any harm, so don't be put off treating yourself occasionally!

what is a good sleeping pattern?

So, how can you get a healthy sleep routine? A good sleeping pattern involves maintaining consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, even on weekends. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Avoid caffeine and electronic devices before bed and create a relaxing bedtime routine. These sleeping tips can help create a healthier night’s sleep, but remember, everyone's sleep needs may vary, so listen to your body and adjust accordingly. If you need further tips about sleep, then check out our blog on 10 tips for your best night’s sleep.

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