George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
Melissa Locker
August 22, 2017

Usually when you want to lose a few pounds, you cut sugar or carbs or Moon Pies and start adding a little more exercise into your daily routine. A new study shows, however, that it might be as effective to skip all that and just sleep in, especially if you usually skip sleep during the week.

The human body needs a lot of rest, and if you don’t get enough of sleep, it can wreak havoc on your system. Side effects aren’t limited to just dark circles under your eyes and yawning through a meeting, though, not getting enough sleep can actually lead to weight gain. The technical term is “sleep-restriction induced or related obesity” and it’s serious. According to the smart folks over at the Mayo Clinic, adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to be healthy. However between social obligations, Golden Girls marathons on TV, and the need to still get up for work in the morning, many adults aren’t getting anywhere close to 7 to 9 hours. And that can lead to weight gain. Luckily, there’s an easy solution to curbing that type of weight gain—sleep in on the weekends.

According to a study published in the Oxford University Press journal Sleep, sleeping in on the weekend to make up for sleep lost during the week is associated with lower body mass index (BMI), RD.com reports. The study looked at people between the ages of 18 and 82, and found that if you made up for sleep lost during the week (when you can’t sleep in) by simply snoozing around two hours more on the weekends, it dramatically decreased the risk for obesity related to sleep loss.

WATCH: How to Conceal Dark Circles

As to why catch-up sleep works to help lose weight, one of the study’s researchers spoke to Reader’s Digest about that. “Our best estimate is that there is a balance to be kept, and the body can adjust and adapt within reason,” Dr. Robert Thomas of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston told RD.com. “Catch-up sleep allows the basic balance to be maintained.”

So this weekend, skip the alarm clock—doctor’s orders.