Sleep Duration and Obesity in Adults: What Are the Connections?
Collectively, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies on self-reported sleep duration and obesity do not show a clear pattern of association with some showing a negative linear relationship, some showing a U-shaped relationship, and some showing no relationship. Associations between sleep duration and obesity seem stronger in younger adults. Cross-sectional studies using objectively measured sleep duration (actigraphy or polysomnography (PSG)) also show this mixed pattern whereas all longitudinal studies to date using actigraphy or PSG have failed to show a relationship with obesity/weight gain. It is still too early and a too easy solution to suggest that changing the sleep duration will cure the obesity epidemic. Given novel results on emotional stress and poor sleep as mediating factors in the relationship between sleep duration and obesity, detection and management of these should become the target of future clinical efforts as well as future research.
KeywordsSleep Obesity Adults Review
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Jenny Theorell-Haglöw and Eva Lindberg declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
- 69.••Vgontzas AN et al. Unveiling the longitudinal association between short sleep duration and the incidence of obesity: the Penn State Cohort. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014;38(6):825–32. This study has addressed many of the issues raised about previous studies and assessed obesity, subjective, and objective sleep but also sleep difficulty and emotional stress. In addition, they have controlled for confounding factors and examined mediating and moderating effects.Google Scholar
- 72.•Cizza G et al. Hawthorne effect with transient behavioral and biochemical changes in a randomized controlled sleep extension trial of chronically short-sleeping obese adults: implications for the design and interpretation of clinical studies. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(8):e104176. To date, this is the only study that has set out to test the hypothesis that sleep extension (in a group of chronically sleep-deprived obese subjects) would cause weight loss and give metabolic and endocrine improvements, using a randomized, controlled trial (RCT) setting.Google Scholar
- 81.•Hoyos C, Glozier N, Marshall N. Recent evidence on worldwide trends on sleep duration. Curr Sleep Med Rep. 2015;1(4):195–204. This review is an update on the evidence on trends on sleep duration.Google Scholar
- 86.•Dweck JS, Jenkins SM, Nolan LJ. The role of emotional eating and stress in the influence of short sleep on food consumption. Appetite. 2014;72:106–13. This study has found emotional eating behavior, a marker of distress, to influence the relationship between short sleep duration and weight gain.Google Scholar