Sleep, ghrelin, leptin and changes in body weight during a 1-year moderate-intensity physical activity intervention

Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Mar;31(3):466-75. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803438. Epub 2006 Aug 15.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Ghrelin
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Peptide Hormones / blood*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin
  • Peptide Hormones