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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Dec;23(12):2349-56. doi: 10.1002/oby.21198. Epub 2015 Nov 5.

Resting metabolic rate varies by race and by sleep duration.

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Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



Short sleep duration is a significant risk factor for weight gain, particularly in African Americans and men. Increased caloric intake underlies this relationship, but it remains unclear whether decreased energy expenditure is a contributory factor. The current study assessed the impact of sleep restriction and recovery sleep on energy expenditure in African American and Caucasian men and women.


Healthy adults participated in a controlled laboratory study. After two baseline sleep nights, subjects were randomized to an experimental (n = 36; 4 h sleep/night for five nights followed by one night with 12 h recovery sleep) or control condition (n = 11; 10 h sleep/night). Resting metabolic rate and respiratory quotient were measured using indirect calorimetry in the morning after overnight fasting.


Resting metabolic rate-the largest component of energy expenditure-decreased after sleep restriction (-2.6%, P = 0.032) and returned to baseline levels after recovery sleep. No changes in resting metabolic rate were observed in control subjects. Relative to Caucasians (n = 14), African Americans (n = 22) exhibited comparable daily caloric intake but a lower resting metabolic rate (P = 0.043) and higher respiratory quotient (P = 0.013) regardless of sleep duration.


Sleep restriction decreased morning resting metabolic rate in healthy adults, suggesting that sleep loss leads to metabolic changes aimed at conserving energy.

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