There is increasing evidence showing that sleep has an influence on eating behaviors. Short sleep duration, poor sleep quality, and later bedtimes are all associated with increased food intake, poor diet quality, and excess body weight. Insufficient sleep seems to facilitate the ingestion of calories when exposed to the modern obesogenic environment of readily accessible food. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase snacking, the number of meals consumed per day, and the preference for energy-rich foods. Proposed mechanisms by which insufficient sleep may increase caloric consumption include: (1) more time and opportunities for eating, (2) psychological distress, (3) greater sensitivity to food reward, (4) disinhibited eating, (5) more energy needed to sustain extended wakefulness, and (6) changes in appetite hormones. Globally, excess energy intake associated with not getting adequate sleep seems to be preferentially driven by hedonic rather than homeostatic factors. Moreover, the consumption of certain types of foods which impact the availability of tryptophan as well as the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin may aid in promoting sleep. In summary, multiple connections exist between sleep patterns, eating behavior and energy balance. Sleep should not be overlooked in obesity research and should be included as part of the lifestyle package that traditionally has focused on diet and physical activity.
Keywords: Diet; Eating behavior; Energy; Food; Obesity; Sleep.