(HealthDay News) – Various mechanisms may be involved in the correlation between sleep deprivation and obesity, including disruption of appetitive hormones and influence on energy intake.

Noting that an inverse association has been demonstrated between obesity and sleep duration, Julie D. Shlisky, PhD, and colleagues from the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, reviewed the literature to examine the mechanisms by which partial sleep deprivation influences energy balance and weight regulation. Eighteen articles met the inclusion criteria, examined partial sleep deprivation, and assessed measurement of at least one weight-related outcome.

The researchers found that reduced sleep may increase ghrelin and decrease leptin, with this disruption in appetitive hormone regulation influencing energy intake. Food intake episodes and energy imbalance may be promoted by increased wakefulness. Although additional and more accurate methods of measurement are needed to detect subtle changes, energy expenditure does not seem to be greatly affected by partial sleep deprivation. A combination of body weight loss due to reduced energy intake and/or increased energy expenditure together with partial sleep deprivation may contribute to undesirable changes in body composition, with an increased proportion of fat-free soft tissue mass loss, compared with fat mass.

“Research to describe the effects of sleep deprivation on body composition is lacking, including studies describing alterations in substrate use,” the authors write. “Further research to examine how partial sleep deprivation induces glucose intolerance and free fatty acid mobilization, as well as altered counter-regulatory hormones and substrate use is needed to understand this relationship.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the food and nutrition industries.

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