Objectives: Evidence for a causal relationship between sleep-loss and metabolism is derived primarily from short-term sleep deprivation studies in the laboratory. The objective of this study was to investigate whether small changes in sleep duration over a three week period while participants are living in their normal environment lead to changes in insulin sensitivity and other metabolic parameters.
Methods: Nineteen healthy, young, normal-weight men were randomised to either sleep restriction (habitual bedtime minus 1.5h) or a control condition (habitual bedtime) for three weeks. Weekly assessments of insulin sensitivity by hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp, anthropometry, vascular function, leptin and adiponectin were made. Sleep was assessed continuously using actigraphy and diaries.
Results: Assessment of sleep by actigraphy confirmed that the intervention reduced daily sleep duration by 01:19 ± 00:15 (SE; p<0.001). Sleep restriction led to changes in insulin sensitivity, body weight and plasma concentrations of leptin which varied during the three week period. There was no effect on plasma adiponectin or vascular function.
Conclusions: Even minor reductions in sleep duration lead to changes in insulin sensitivity, body weight and other metabolic parameters which vary during the exposure period. Larger and longer longitudinal studies of sleep restriction and sleep extension are warranted.
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