Role of sleep timing in caloric intake and BMI

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Jul;19(7):1374-81. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.100. Epub 2011 Apr 28.


Sleep duration has been linked to obesity and there is also an emerging literature in animals demonstrating a relationship between the timing of feeding and weight regulation. However, there is a paucity of research evaluating timing of sleep and feeding on weight regulation in humans. The goal of this study was to evaluate the role of sleep timing in dietary patterns and BMI. Participants included 52 (25 females) volunteers who completed 7 days of wrist actigraphy and food logs. Fifty-six percent were "normal sleepers" (midpoint of <5:30 AM) and 44% were "late sleepers" (midpoint of sleep ≥5:30 AM). Late sleepers had shorter sleep duration, later sleep onset and sleep offset and meal times. Late sleepers consumed more calories at dinner and after 8:00 PM, had higher fast food, full-calorie soda and lower fruit and vegetable consumption. Higher BMI was associated with shorter sleep duration, later sleep timing, caloric consumption after 8:00 PM, and fast food meals. In multivariate models, sleep timing was independently associated with calories consumed after 8:00 PM and fruit and vegetable consumption but did not predict BMI after controlling for sleep duration. Calories consumed after 8:00 PM predicted BMI after controlling for sleep timing and duration. These findings indicate that caloric intake after 8:00 PM may increase the risk of obesity, independent of sleep timing and duration. Future studies should investigate the biological and social mechanisms linking timing of sleep and feeding in order to develop novel time-based interventions for weight management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Chicago
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Diet Records
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / etiology*
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology
  • Sleep*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult