• Dr Sally Norton


So many of us do it. Work like demons during the week, eat late, collapse in front of the TV or carry on working at the computer late into the night. We barely scrape 6 hours sleep...but comfort ourselves that we'll be able to have a long lie-in at the weekend to restore and revive. That's assuming we don’t have young kids waking us up, of course ..... I remember that pain all too clearly!!

Sorry to disillusion you, but studies show that we are fooling ourselves. Increasing evidence seems to show that a regular 7-8 hours a night is best – not a few hours here and a long lie-in there. There’s more research too, highlighting the importance of our in-built body clock...which runs on a strict 24 hour cycle (give or take 15 minutes or so) and affects all our basic mechanisms from hormone production to food digestion. Get out of sync with that body clock at your peril – it plays havoc with your weight loss efforts. And your health too.

So, what’s the problem?

When a study group of people had their sleep restricted during the week, but were allowed weekend ‘catch up’ sleep, they only managed to repay an hour or so of the average 12 hours of sleep lost.

They ate more in the evenings during the week and gained weight as a result – in keeping with previous studies on sleep restriction. What’s more they had increased insulin resistance – an imbalance in hormones that can progress to type 2 diabetes, predispose to heart disease and more. Importantly, for those of us trying to keep weight under control, insulin resistance is associated with belly fat and makes it more difficult to lose weight.

Trying to catch up with sleep at weekends didn’t help the situation much for the people in the study – in fact it disrupted the body clock further leading to symptoms similar to jet-lag - and any small benefits from the extra sleep were rapidly lost when the tiring working week followed.

This just adds to the mounting evidence that getting a

regular good night’s sleep is one of the best things we can do for our weight, as well as our health and wellbeing. What’s more, keeping our body clock ticking happily away without disruption means that all of our vital, carefully regulated, body processes can do what they are supposed to – and that’s to keep us running efficiently and effectively, with minimal effort from us. And that's what we want!

Don’t fool yourself – sleep deprivation isn’t a recipe for long-term weight-loss success, even if you get a weekend lie-in!

And if you want more help in losing weight and keeping it off - with a new, science-based approach - then do join me in my online 12 weeks Weight Loss for Life programme. Click here for more information.