Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite

Ann Intern Med. 2004 Dec 7;141(11):846-50. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-141-11-200412070-00008.


Background: Total sleep deprivation in rodents and in humans has been associated with hyperphagia. Over the past 40 years, self-reported sleep duration in the United States has decreased by almost 2 hours.

Objective: To determine whether partial sleep curtailment, an increasingly prevalent behavior, alters appetite regulation.

Design: Randomized, 2-period, 2-condition crossover clinical study.

Setting: Clinical Research Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Patients: 12 healthy men (mean age [+/-SD], 22 +/- 2 years; mean body mass index [+/-SD], 23.6 +/- 2.0 kg/m2).

Measurements: Daytime profiles of plasma leptin and ghrelin levels and subjective ratings of hunger and appetite.

Intervention: 2 days of sleep restriction and 2 days of sleep extension under controlled conditions of caloric intake and physical activity.

Results: Sleep restriction was associated with average reductions in the anorexigenic hormone leptin (decrease, 18%; P = 0.04), elevations in the orexigenic factor ghrelin (increase, 28%; P < 0.04), and increased hunger (increase, 24%; P < 0.01) and appetite (increase, 23%; P = 0.01), especially for calorie-dense foods with high carbohydrate content (increase, 33% to 45%; P = 0.02).

Limitations: The study included only 12 young men and did not measure energy expenditure.

Conclusions: Short sleep duration in young, healthy men is associated with decreased leptin levels, increased ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Ghrelin
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Peptide Hormones / blood*
  • Sleep Deprivation / blood
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin
  • Peptide Hormones