Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: a brief narrative review
  1. Christopher B Cooper1,
  2. Eric V Neufeld1,
  3. Brett A Dolezal1,
  4. Jennifer L Martin2,3
  1. 1 Exercise Physiology Research Laboratory, Departments of Medicine and Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3 VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher B Cooper; ccooper{at}


Background/aims Obesity and sleep deprivation are two epidemics that pervade developed nations. Their rates have been steadily rising worldwide, especially in the USA. This short communication will explore the link between the two conditions and outline the proposed mechanisms behind their relationship.

Methods Studies on the topic of sleep and obesity were reviewed, and findings were used to develop a theoretical model for the biological link between short sleep duration and obesity.

Results Individuals who regularly slept less than 7  hours per night were more likely to have higher average body mass indexes and develop obesity than those who slept more. Studies showed that experimental sleep restriction was associated with increased levels of ghrelin, salt retention and inflammatory markers as well as decreased levels of leptin and insulin sensitivity.

Conclusions There may be a link between obesity and sleep deprivation. We recommend further investigations are to elucidate the potential mechanisms.

  • body mass index
  • leptin
  • ghrelin
  • hunger
  • fatigue

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors All authors made significant contributions. CBC conceived the idea for this paper and performed the literature review. EVN, BAD and JLM wrote significant portions of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.