Objective: To investigate cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships among exercise, sleep, ghrelin and leptin.
Methods: We randomly assigned 173 post-menopausal sedentary overweight (body mass index >or=24.0 kg/m(2) and >33% body fat) women aged 50-75 years living in western Washington State to either a facility- and home-based moderate-intensity physical activity intervention or a stretching control group. Fasting plasma ghrelin, leptin, measured height, weight and self-reported sleep were assessed at baseline and 12 months.
Results: There were no consistent cross-sectional patterns between self-reported sleep measures and ghrelin or leptin at baseline. The weight loss differences between exercisers and stretchers were greater for those who slept less at follow-up than at baseline compared to those whose sleep duration did not change (-3.2 kg, 95% confidence interval (CI) -5.8, -0.5). Improvements in sleep quality were associated with significantly greater differences between exercisers and stretchers for ghrelin increases (improved vs same sleep quality: +115 pg/ml, 95% CI +25, +206) and leptin decreases (improved vs worsened sleep quality: -5.7 ng/ml, 95% CI -9.5, -1.5).
Conclusion: There was only limited evidence that changes in sleep duration or quality modified exercise-induced changes in weight, ghrelin or leptin. Moreover, the observed differences were not in the directions hypothesized. Future longitudinal studies including population-based samples using objective measures of sleep and long follow-up may help to clarify these relationships.