Study Objectives: The rise in obesity has been paralleled by a decline in sleep duration in epidemiological studies. However, the potential mechanisms linking energy balance and the sleep/wake cycle are not well understood. We aimed to examine the effects of manipulating energy balance on the sleep/wake cycle. Methods: Twelve healthy normal weight men were housed in a clinical research facility and studied at three time points: baseline, after energy balance was disrupted by 2 days of caloric restriction to 10% of energy requirements, and after energy balance was restored by 2 days of ad libitum/free feeding. Sleep architecture, duration of sleep stages, and sleep-associated respiratory parameters were measured by polysomnography. Results: Two days of caloric restriction significantly increased the duration of deep (stage 4) sleep (16.8% to 21.7% of total sleep time; P = 0.03); an effect which was entirely reversed upon free feeding (P = 0.01). Although the apnea-hypopnea index stayed within the reference range (< 5 events per hour), it decreased significantly from caloric restriction to free feeding (P = 0.03). Caloric restriction was associated with a marked fall in leptin (P < 0.001) and insulin levels (P = 0.002). The fall in orexin levels from baseline to caloric restriction correlated positively with duration of stage 4 sleep (Spearman rho = 0.83, P = 0.01) and negatively with the number of awakenings in caloric restriction (Spearman rho = -0.79, P = 0.01). Conclusions: We demonstrate that changes in energy homeostasis directly and reversibly impact on the sleep/wake cycle. These findings provide a mechanistic framework for investigating the association between sleep duration and obesity risk.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)