Sleep debt and obesity

Ann Med. 2014 Aug;46(5):264-72. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2014.931103. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Short sleep duration has been shown to be associated with elevated body mass index (BMI) in many epidemiological studies. Several pathways could link sleep deprivation to weight gain and obesity, including increased food intake, decreased energy expenditure, and changes in levels of appetite-regulating hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin. A relatively new factor that is contributing to sleep deprivation is the use of multimedia (e.g. television viewing, computer, and internet), which may aggravate sedentary behavior and increase caloric intake. In addition, shift-work, long working hours, and increased time commuting to and from work have also been hypothesized to favor weight gain and obesity-related metabolic disorders, because of their strong link to shorter sleep times. This article reviews the epidemiological, biological, and behavioral evidence linking sleep debt and obesity.

Keywords: Energy expenditure; energy intake; epidemiology; ghrelin; leptin; obesity; sleep; sleep deprivation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Appetite / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Ghrelin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin