Didn’t get enough sleep during the week? Take heart — catching up on shuteye over the weekend could provide the bonus of improved cardiovascular health, according to a new study published in the journal Sleep Health.
Researchers from Nanjing Medical University in China analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which compiled information from 3,400 U.S. adults ages 20 years and older between 2017 and 2018.
The survey gathered information on how long the participants slept on weekdays and weekends, as well as whether they had heart disease, high blood pressure and/or diabetes.
The people who slept for at least one hour longer on weekends than weekdays were shown to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease — in particular, stroke, coronary heart disease and angina (chest pain due to reduced blood flow) compared to those who didn’t get catch-up sleep.
The reduced risk was most significant among those who got less than six hours of sleep on weekdays and slept for at least two extra hours on weekends.
"Sleeping less than six hours per night increases our risk of stress hormone release and increased heart attack and stroke," said Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor.
"Making up sleep debt does not fully reverse the effects of chronic sleep deprivation."
Siegel, who was not involved in the study, offered comment on the findings.
"The study found that you can make up for a sleep debt during the week and reset with more than two extra hours on the weekend, bringing your risk of heart disease back to baseline," he told Fox News Digital.
"Though this is observational and not proof, I believe this finding is real, because more sleep brings your metabolism down to a lower level where the risks are lower," he added.
Fox News Digital reached out to the study author for additional comments.
Dr. Biquan Luo, a San Francisco sleep expert and CEO of LumosTech, which produces a smart sleep mask to promote healthy circadian rhythms, shared her reaction to the study findings. She was not involved in the research.
"Under normal circumstances, when you are not sleep-deprived, a consistent sleep schedule helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythms, supporting higher-quality sleep, better energy and cardiometabolic health," Luo told Fox News Digital.
"That's why sleep experts recommend not sleeping in during the weekend."
However, consistently lacking adequate sleep can cause chronic fatigue and increased risks for obesity and cardiovascular diseases, the expert pointed out.
"In this case, catching up on sleep on the weekend is more beneficial for your health," she said.
"It is important to note that making up sleep debt does not fully reverse the effects of chronic sleep deprivation," Luo added.
The Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend at least seven hours of sleep per night for adults.
Insufficient sleep has previously been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, high blood pressure and other diseases and conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).