Longitudinal associations between sleep duration and subsequent weight gain: a systematic review

Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Jun;16(3):231-41. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.05.005. Epub 2011 Jul 23.


Objective: To systematically examine the relationship between sleep duration and subsequent weight gain in observational longitudinal human studies.

Methods: Systematic review of twenty longitudinal studies published from 2004-October 31, 2010.

Results: While adult studies (n = 13) reported inconsistent results on the relationship between sleep duration and subsequent weight gain, studies with children (n = 7) more consistently reported a positive relationship between short sleep duration and weight gain.

Conclusion: While shorter sleep duration consistently predicts subsequent weight gain in children, the relationship is not clear in adults. We discuss possible limitations of the current studies: 1) the diminishing association between short sleep duration on weight gain over time after transition to short sleep, 2) lack of inclusion of appropriate confounding, mediating, and moderating variables (i.e., sleep complaints and sedentary behavior), and 3) measurement issues.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Young Adult