Increased Hunger, Food Cravings, Food Reward, and Portion Size Selection after Sleep Curtailment in Women Without Obesity.

Nutrients. 2019;11(3)

Plain language summary

Insufficient sleep is a risk factor for overweight and obesity. A number of maladaptive changes take place that promote increased intake and weight gain. The aim of this randomised crossover study was to examine the impact of sleep deprivation on hunger, food cravings, food reward and portion size among 24 healthy women. Participants were randomised to either one normal night sleep or curtailed night sleep, where time in bed was reduced by 33%. Crossover visits occurred two weeks apart. Sleep duration was measured through imaging and sleep quality, hunger, tiredness, and food cravings were observed through questionnaires. This study found an increase in hunger, food cravings, food reward and portion sizes after a night of sleep deprivation. Based on this study the authors conclude reduced sleep duration can lead to increased energy intake and therefore an increased risk of obesity.


undefined: This study examined the effects of one night of sleep curtailment on hunger, food cravings, food reward, and portion size selection. Women who reported habitually sleeping 7⁻9 h per night, were aged 18⁻55, were not obese, and had no sleep disorders were recruited. Sleep conditions in this randomized crossover study consisted of a normal night (NN) and a curtailed night (CN) where time in bed was reduced by 33%. Hunger, tiredness, sleep quality, sleepiness, and food cravings were measured. A progressive ratio task using chocolates assessed the food reward. Participants selected portions of various foods that reflected how much they wanted to eat at that time. The sleep duration was measured using a single-channel electroencephalograph. Twenty-four participants completed the study. The total sleep time was shorter during the CN ( < 0.001). Participants reported increased hunger ( = 0.013), tiredness ( < 0.001), sleepiness ( < 0.001), and food cravings ( = 0.002) after the CN. More chocolate was consumed after the CN ( = 0.004). Larger portion sizes selected after the CN resulted in increased energy plated for lunch ( = 0.034). In conclusion, the present study observed increased hunger, food cravings, food reward, and portion sizes of food after a night of modest sleep curtailment. These maladaptive responses could lead to higher energy intake and, ultimately, weight gain.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Sleep
Environmental Inputs : Nutrients ; Mind and spirit
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Sleep and relaxation
Functional Laboratory Testing : Imaging

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 3
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Sleep ; Sleep deprivation ; Obesity ; Overeating