The prevalence of diabetes and obesity is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, and the causes of this pandemic are not fully understood. Chronic sleep curtailment is a behavior that has developed over the past 2-3 decades. Laboratory and epidemiological studies suggest that sleep loss may play a role in the increased prevalence of diabetes and/or obesity. Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: (1) alterations in glucose metabolism; (2) upregulation of appetite; and (3) decreased energy expenditure. The present article reviews the current evidence in support of these three mechanisms that might link short sleep and increased obesity and diabetes risk.