Alterations in sleep architecture in response to experimental sleep curtailment are associated with signs of positive energy balance

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012 Nov 1;303(9):R883-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00222.2012. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


Sleep reduction is associated with increased energy intake and weight gain, though few studies have explored the relationship between sleep architecture and energy balance measures in the context of experimental sleep restriction. Fourteen males and 13 females (body mass index: 22-26 kg/m(2)) participated in a crossover sleep curtailment study. Participants were studied under two sleep conditions: short (4 h/night; 0100-0500 h) and habitual (9 h/night; 2200-0700 h), for 5 nights each. Sleep was polysomnographically recorded nightly. Outcome measures included resting metabolic rate (RMR), feelings of appetite-satiety, and ad libitum food intake. Short sleep resulted in reductions in stage 2 sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep duration (P < 0.001), as well as decreased percentage of stage 2 sleep and REM sleep and increased slow wave sleep (SWS) percentage (P < 0.05). Linear mixed model analysis demonstrated a positive association between stage 2 sleep duration and RMR (P = 0.051). Inverse associations were observed between REM sleep duration and hunger (P = 0.031) and between stage 2 sleep duration and appetite for sweet (P = 0.015) and salty (P = 0.046) foods. Stage 2 sleep percentage was inversely related to energy consumed (P = 0.024). Stage 2 sleep (P = 0.005), SWS (P = 0.008), and REM sleep (P = 0.048) percentages were inversely related to fat intake, and SWS (P = 0.040) and REM sleep (P = 0.050) were inversely related to carbohydrate intake. This study demonstrates that changes in sleep architecture are associated with markers of positive energy balance and indicate a means by which exposure to short sleep duration and/or an altered sleep architecture profile may lead to excess weight gain over time.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite / physiology
  • Basal Metabolism / physiology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • Time Factors