Objective Measurements of Energy Balance Are Associated With Sleep Architecture in Healthy Adults

Sleep. 2017 Jan 1;40(1):zsw018. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsw018.


Study objectives: We objectively measured body composition, energy expenditure, caloric intake, and sleep in a large, diverse sample of healthy men and women and determined how energy balance and diet associated with sleep physiology.

Methods: Healthy adults (n = 50; 21-50 years) participated in an in-laboratory study involving two baseline sleep nights (BL1-2, 10 hours time-in-bed/night, 2200-0800 hours). Polysomnography was recorded on BL2. Demographic information, body composition, and energy expenditure measurements were collected at study admittance and on BL1. Daily food/drink intake was recorded both before (on BL1) and after (on BL2) the sleep measurement. Partial Pearson's correlations assessed the relationship between energy balance and sleep physiology variables.

Results: At baseline, greater fat-free mass associated with lower total sleep time (r = -0.52, p = .030), lower sleep efficiency (r = -0.53, p = .004), and greater wake after sleep onset (r = 0.55, p = .002). Higher body fat percentage (r = 0.39, p = .038) and being overweight (Body Mass Index [BMI] 25-30; p = .026) associated with more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Higher protein intake (r's = 0.46-0.52; p's < .001-.002) and lower carbohydrate intake (r's = -0.31 to -0.34; p's = .027-.046) on BL1 and BL2 associated with more REM sleep. Greater fiber consumption on BL1 and BL2 associated with more slow-wave sleep (SWS; r's = 0.33-0.35; p's = .02-.03). More SWS related to increased carbohydrate intake the following day (BL2, r = 0.32, p = .037).

Conclusions: Body composition and diet were related to baseline sleep characteristics, including SWS and REM sleep duration and sleep maintenance. Future studies should further evaluate the influence of energy balance measures on sleep physiology, since dietary interventions may be useful in treating insufficient sleep, poor sleep quality, excessive sleepiness or other sleep disorders.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02128737 NCT02130791.

Keywords: Sleep architecture; caloric intake; energy balance; macronutrient intake.; polysomnography.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02128737
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02130791