Background: A short sleep (SS) duration has been linked to obesity in observational studies. However, experimental evidence of the potential mechanisms of sleep restriction on energy balance is conflicting and, to our knowledge, nonexistent in adolescents.
Objective: We investigated the effects of 3 consecutive nights of partial sleep deprivation on components of energy balance.
Design: In a randomized, crossover design, 21 healthy, normal-weight male adolescents (mean ± SD age: 16.8 ± 1.3 y) completed the following 2 experimental conditions, each for 3 consecutive nights: an SS (4 h/night) and a long sleep (LS; 9 h/night) duration. Endpoints were 24-h energy expenditure (EE), spontaneous physical activity (SPA), postintervention diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT), appetite sensations, ad libitum energy intake (EI), and profiles of plasma ghrelin and leptin.
Results: The 24-h EE on day 3 was 370 ± 496 kJ higher in the SS condition than in the LS condition (P = 0.003). This difference in EE was explained by prolonged wakefulness in the SS condition and a 19% higher SPA (P = 0.003). In a postintervention breakfast-meal challenge, there was a 0.19-kJ/min smaller incremental AUC in DIT over 4 h in the SS condition than in the LS condition (P = 0.012) with no time × condition effect (P = 0.29). Subjects consumed 13% less energy in the ad libitum meal in the SS condition (P = 0.031), with a concomitant decreased motivation to eat. Concentrations of ghrelin and leptin remained unchanged with sleep restriction.
Conclusion: Short-term sleep restriction in male adolescents is associated with a small negative energy balance driven by increased EE from prolonged wakefulness and a concomitant decreased EI and motivation to eat. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01198431.