Effect of Sleep Extension on Objectively Assessed Energy Intake Among Adults With Overweight in Real-life Settings: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Intern Med. 2022 Apr 1;182(4):365-374. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.8098.


Importance: Short sleep duration has been recognized as a risk factor for obesity. Whether extending sleep duration may mitigate this risk remains unknown.

Objective: To determine the effects of a sleep extension intervention on objectively assessed energy intake, energy expenditure, and body weight in real-life settings among adults with overweight who habitually curtailed their sleep duration.

Design, setting, and participants: This single-center, randomized clinical trial was conducted from November 1, 2014, to October 30, 2020. Participants were adults aged 21 to 40 years with a body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) between 25.0 and 29.9 and had habitual sleep duration of less than 6.5 hours per night. Data were analyzed according to the intention-to-treat principle.

Interventions: After a 2-week habitual sleep period at baseline, participants were randomized to either an individualized sleep hygiene counseling session that was intended to extend their bedtime to 8.5 hours (sleep extension group) or to continue their habitual sleep (control group). All participants were instructed to continue daily routine activities at home without any prescribed diet or physical activity.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was change in energy intake from baseline, which was objectively assessed as the sum of total energy expenditure and change in body energy stores. Total energy expenditure was measured by the doubly labeled water method. Change in body energy stores was computed using regression of daily home weights and body composition changes from dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Sleep duration was monitored by actigraphy. Changes from baseline were compared between the 2 groups using intention-to-treat analysis.

Results: Data from 80 randomized participants (mean [SD] age, 29.8 [5.1] years; 41 men [51.3%]) were analyzed. Sleep duration was increased by approximately 1.2 hours per night (95% CI, 1.0 to 1.4 hours; P < .001) in the sleep extension group vs the control group. The sleep extension group had a significant decrease in energy intake compared with the control group (-270 kcal/d; 95% CI, -393 to -147 kcal/d; P < .001). The change in sleep duration was inversely correlated with the change in energy intake (r = -0.41; 95% CI, -0.59 to -0.20; P < .001). No significant treatment effect in total energy expenditure was found, resulting in weight reduction in the sleep extension group vs the control group.

Conclusions and relevance: This trial found that sleep extension reduced energy intake and resulted in a negative energy balance in real-life settings among adults with overweight who habitually curtailed their sleep duration. Improving and maintaining healthy sleep duration over longer periods could be part of obesity prevention and weight loss programs.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02253368.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Energy Intake*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight* / therapy
  • Sleep
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02253368