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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009 May;34(4):540-5. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.10.016. Epub 2008 Dec 6.

Nocturnal levels of ghrelin and leptin and sleep in chronic insomnia.

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles - Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7076, United States.


Experimental sleep deprivation in healthy humans affects levels of ghrelin and leptin, two primary hormones involved in energy balance that regulate appetite and body weight. No study to date has examined levels of these hormones in patients with chronic insomnia. In this study, men diagnosed with primary insomnia using DSM-IV criteria (n=14) and age and body weight comparable healthy control men (n=24) underwent polysomnography. Circulating levels of ghrelin and leptin were measured at 2300h, 0200h and 0600h. As compared to controls, insomnia patients showed less total sleep time, stage 2 and REM sleep and decreased sleep efficiency and more stage 1 sleep than controls (p's<.05). Ghrelin levels across the night were significantly lower in insomnia patients (p<.0001). Leptin was not significantly different between the groups. In conclusion, decreased nocturnal ghrelin in insomnia is consistent with findings for nighttime levels in sleep deprivation studies in healthy sleepers. These findings suggest that insomnia patients have a dysregulation in energy balance that may play a role in explaining prospective weight gain in this population.

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