Experimental studies have shown that sleep restriction (SR) and total sleep deprivation (TSD) produce increased caloric intake, greater fat consumption, and increased late-night eating. However, whether individuals show similar energy intake responses to both SR and TSD remains unknown. A total of N = 66 healthy adults (aged 21-50 years, 48.5% women, 72.7% African American) participated in a within-subjects laboratory protocol to compare daily and late-night intake between one night of SR (4 h time in bed, 04:00-08:00) and one night of TSD (0 h time in bed) conditions. We also examined intake responses during subsequent recovery from SR or TSD and investigated gender differences. Caloric and macronutrient intake during the day following SR and TSD were moderately to substantially consistent within individuals (Intraclass Correlation Coefficients: 0.34-0.75). During the late-night period of SR (22:00-04:00) and TSD (22:00-06:00), such consistency was slight to moderate, and participants consumed a greater percentage of calories from protein (p = 0.01) and saturated fat (p = 0.02) during SR, despite comparable caloric intake (p = 0.12). Similarly, participants consumed a greater percentage of calories from saturated fat during the day following SR than TSD (p = 0.03). Participants also consumed a greater percentage of calories from protein during recovery after TSD (p < 0.001). Caloric intake was greater in men during late-night hours and the day following sleep loss. This is the first evidence of phenotypic trait-like stability and differential vulnerability of energy balance responses to two commonly experienced types of sleep loss: our findings open the door for biomarker discovery and countermeasure development to predict and mitigate this critical health-related vulnerability.
Keywords: caloric intake; gender differences; individual differences; late-night intake; macronutrients; recovery; sleep restriction; total sleep deprivation.