Getting too little sleep during the week can increase some risk factors for diabetes, but sleeping late on weekends might help improve the picture, a small US study suggests.
Researchers conducted a sleep experiment with 19 healthy young men and found just four nights of sleep deprivation were linked to changes in their blood suggesting their bodies weren't handling sugar as well as usual.
But then, when they let the men get extra sleep for the next two nights, their blood tests returned to normal, countering the effect of the short-term sleep deprivation.
"It gives us some hope that if there is no way to extend sleep during the week, people should try very hard to protect their sleep when they do get an opportunity to sleep in and sleep as much as possible to pay back the sleep debt," said lead study author Josaine Broussard of the University of Colorado Boulder.
The study doesn't prove sleeping late every weekend can counter the ill effects of insufficient rest every other night of the week, Broussard cautioned.
And it doesn't prove that catching up on sleep will prevent diabetes.
"We don't know if people can recover if the behavior is repeated every week," Broussard added by email. "It is likely though that if any group of people suffer from sleep loss, getting extra sleep will be beneficial."