Sleep Duration and Waist Circumference in Adults: A Meta-Analysis

Sleep. 2015 Aug 1;38(8):1269-76. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4906.


Background: Previous research has demonstrated a relation between insufficient sleep and overall obesity. Waist circumference (WC), a measure of central adiposity, has been demonstrated to improve prediction of health risk. However, recent research on the relation of insufficient sleep duration to WC in adults has yielded inconsistent findings.

Objectives: To assess the magnitude and the consistency of the relation of insufficient sleep and WC.

Methods: A systematic search of Internet and research databases using Google Scholar, Medline, PubMed, and PsycINFO through July 2013 was conducted. All articles in English with adult human subjects that included measurements of WC and sleep duration were reviewed. A random effects meta-analysis and regression analyses were performed. Heterogeneity and publication bias were checked. Results are expressed as Pearson correlations (r; 95% confidence interval).

Results: Of 1,376 articles, 30 met inclusion criteria and 21 studies (22 samples for a total of 56,259 participants) provided sufficient data for meta-analysis. Results showed a significant negative relation between sleep duration and WC (r = -0.10, P < 0.0001) with significant heterogeneity related to sleep comparison method. Potential moderators of the relation between sleep duration and WC were not significant. Funnel plots showed no indication of publication bias. In addition, a fail-safe N calculation indicated that 418 studies with null effects would be necessary to bring the overall mean effect size to a trivial value of r = -0.005.

Conclusions: Internationally, cross-sectional studies demonstrate a significant negative relation between sleep duration and waist circumference, indicating shorter sleep durations covary with central adiposity. Future research should include prospective studies.

Keywords: central adiposity; meta-analysis; obesity; sleep duration; waist circumference.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Abdominal / complications*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / pathology
  • Risk
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Sleep Deprivation / pathology
  • Time Factors
  • Waist Circumference / physiology*