Reduced sleep as an obesity risk factor


  • S. R. Patel

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Case Western Reserve University;
    2. University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, USA
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SR Patel, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, 2106 Cornell Road, Room 6126, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA. E-mail:


Poor sleep has increasingly gained attention as a potential contributor to the recent obesity epidemic. The increased prevalence of obesity in Western nations over the past half-century has been paralleled by a severe reduction in sleep duration. Physiological studies suggest reduced sleep may impact hormonal regulation of appetite. Prospective studies suggest reduced habitual sleep duration as assessed by self-report is an independent risk factor for an increased rate of weight gain and incident obesity. Cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that the association between reduced sleep and obesity persists when sleep habits are measured objectively, that the association is as a result of elevations in fat and not muscle mass and that this association is not related to sleep apnoea. Thus, reduced sleep appears to represent a novel, independent risk factor for increased weight gain. Further research is needed to determine whether interventions aimed at increasing sleep may be useful in combating obesity.