Impact of Sleep Debt on Metabolic and Endocrine Function

Lancet. 1999 Oct 23;354(9188):1435-9. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(99)01376-8.

Abstract

Background: Chronic sleep debt is becoming increasingly common and affects millions of people in more-developed countries. Sleep debt is currently believed to have no adverse effect on health. We investigated the effect of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine functions.

Methods: We assessed carbohydrate metabolism, thyrotropic function, activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, and sympathovagal balance in 11 young men after time in bed had been restricted to 4 h per night for 6 nights. We compared the sleep-debt condition with measurements taken at the end of a sleep-recovery period when participants were allowed 12 h in bed per night for 6 nights.

Findings: Glucose tolerance was lower in the sleep-debt condition than in the fully rested condition (p<0.02), as were thyrotropin concentrations (p<0.01). Evening cortisol concentrations were raised (p=0.0001) and activity of the sympathetic nervous system was increased in the sleep-debt condition (p<0.02).

Interpretation: Sleep debt has a harmful impact on carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. The effects are similar to those seen in normal ageing and, therefore, sleep debt may increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Endocrine System / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / metabolism
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism
  • Sleep Deprivation / metabolism*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Vagus Nerve / metabolism

Substances

  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine
  • Hydrocortisone