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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jun;97(6):1792-801. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-1067. Epub 2012 Mar 22.

Update on energy homeostasis and insufficient sleep.

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Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, MC-1027, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Driven by the demands and opportunities of modern life, many people habitually sleep less than 6 h a night. In the sleep clinic, chronic sleep restriction is recognized by the diagnosis of insufficient sleep syndrome (ICSD-9, 307.49-4), which is receiving increased scrutiny as a potential risk to metabolic health. Its relevance for the practicing endocrinologist is highlighted by a stream of epidemiological data that show an association of insufficient sleep with increased incidence of obesity and related morbidities. A central theme of this update is the notion that sleep loss incurs additional metabolic cost, which triggers a set of neuroendocrine, metabolic, and behavioral adaptations aimed at increasing food intake and conserving energy. Although this coordinated response may have evolved to offset the metabolic demands of extended wakefulness in natural habitats with limited food availability, it can be maladaptive in the context of a modern environment that allows many to overeat while maintaining a sedentary lifestyle without sufficient sleep. Importantly, such sleep loss-related metabolic adaptation may undermine the success of behavioral interventions based on reduced caloric intake and increased physical activity to lower metabolic risk in obesity-prone individuals. This emerging perspective is based on data from recently published human interventional studies and requires further experimental support. Nevertheless, it now seems prudent to recommend that overweight and obese individuals attempting to reduce their caloric intake and maintain increased physical activity should obtain adequate sleep and, if needed, seek effective treatment for any coexisting sleep disorders.

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