Context: Alongside the growing epidemics of obesity and diabetes mellitus, chronic partial sleep restriction is also increasingly common in modern society, and the metabolic implications of this have not been fully illustrated as yet. Whether recovery sleep is sufficient to offset these detriments is an area of ongoing research.
Objective: This review seeks to summarize the relevant epidemiological and experimental data in the areas of altered metabolic consequences of both shortened sleep and subsequent recovery sleep.
Data acquisition: The medical literature from 1970 to March 2012 was reviewed for key articles.
Data synthesis: Epidemiological studies suggest associations between shortened sleep and future obesity and diabetes. Experimental data thus far show a probable link between shortened sleep and altered glucose metabolism as well as appetite dysregulation.
Conclusion: Sleep often seems undervalued in modern society, but this may have widespread metabolic consequences as described in this review. Acute sleep loss is often unavoidable, but chronic sleep restriction ideally should not be. Understanding the implications of both sleep restriction and recovery on metabolic outcomes will guide public health policy and allow clinical recommendations to be prescribed.