Purpose of review
This review summarizes the most recent evidence linking decreased sleep duration and poor sleep quality to obesity, focusing upon studies in adults.
Published and unpublished health examination surveys and epidemiological studies suggest that the worldwide prevalence of obesity has doubled since 1980. In 2008, 1 in 10 adults was obese, with women more likely to be obese than men. This obesity epidemic has been paralleled by a trend of reduced sleep duration. Poor sleep quality, which leads to overall sleep loss has also become a frequent complaint. Growing evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies points to short sleep duration and poor sleep quality as new risk factors for the development of obesity.
Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite. Recent epidemiological and laboratory evidence confirm previous findings of an association between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity.