Objective: Sleep curtailment has been linked to obesity, but underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. This study assessed whether sleep restriction alters 24-h profiles of appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin, leptin, and pancreatic polypeptide during a standardized diet and whether these hormonal alterations predict food intake during ad libitum feeding.
Methods: Nineteen healthy, lean men were studied under normal sleep and sleep restriction in a randomized crossover design. Blood samples were collected for 24 h during standardized meals. Subsequently, participants had an ad libitum feeding opportunity (buffet meals and snacks) and caloric intake was measured.
Results: Ghrelin levels were increased after sleep restriction as compared with normal sleep (P < 0.01). Overall, sleep restriction did not alter leptin or pancreatic polypeptide profiles. Sleep restriction was associated with an increase in total calories from snacks by 328 ± 140 kcal (P = 0.03), primarily from carbohydrates (P = 0.02). The increase in evening ghrelin during sleep restriction was correlated with higher consumption of calories from sweets (r = 0.48, P = 0.04).
Conclusions: Sleep restriction as compared with normal sleep significantly increases ghrelin levels. The increase in ghrelin is associated with higher consumption of calories. Elevated ghrelin may be a mechanism by which sleep loss leads to increased food intake and the development of obesity.
© 2015 The Obesity Society.