Both sleep-wake behavior and circadian rhythms are tightly coupled to energy metabolism and food intake. Altered feeding times in mice are known to entrain clock gene rhythms in the brain and liver, and sleep-deprived humans tend to eat more and gain weight. Previous observations in mice showing that sleep deprivation (SD) changes clock gene expression might thus relate to altered food intake, and not to the loss of sleep per se. Whether SD affects food intake in the mouse and how this might affect clock gene expression is, however, unknown. We therefore quantified (i) the cortical expression of the clock genes Per1, Per2, Dbp, and Cry1 in mice that had access to food or not during a 6 h SD, and (ii) food intake during baseline, SD, and recovery sleep. We found that food deprivation did not modify the SD-incurred clock gene changes in the cortex. Moreover, we discovered that although food intake during SD did not differ from the baseline, mice lost weight and increased food intake during subsequent recovery. We conclude that SD is associated with food deprivation and that the resulting energy deficit might contribute to the effects of SD that are commonly interpreted as a response to sleep loss.
Keywords: body composition; circadian rhythms; clock genes; energy expenditure; fat; food intake; lean body mass; sleep deprivation.