Sleep extension in short sleepers: An evaluation of feasibility and effectiveness for weight management and cardiometabolic disease prevention

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Sleep duration has become increasingly recognized as an important influencer of health. Epidemiologic and observational studies have shown associations between short sleep duration and increased risk for chronic cardiometabolic disorders, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These associations have led to investigations into the potential causal pathways through which short sleep may increase risk for these disorders. Clinical intervention studies have demonstrated that restricting sleep in normal sleepers has adverse health effects, including insulin resistance, and increased blood pressure. The totality of evidence points to negative health effects of short sleep and the recognition of sleep as a lifestyle behavior that may be targeted for disease prevention. It is well established that consistent, adequate sleep is associated with the lowest risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disorders. Yet, it is unclear whether increasing sleep in short sleepers can improve health. In today's society, it is common for individuals to deprive themselves of sleep during the work week, with the intent to sleep longer during the weekend, or have "catch-up sleep." Studies that have examined the health effects of extended sleep, post-sleep restriction, revealed some improvements in health outcomes. However, it is uncertain whether the improvements observed with catch-up sleep are sufficient to reverse the negative health effects of constant sleep restriction. Few intervention studies have been undertaken to determine whether extending sleep, long-term, in short sleepers is feasible and whether it can reduce the disease risk burden associated with short sleep duration. The purpose of this review is to highlight these studies and evaluate information related to the impact of sleep extension on risk factors for chronic cardiometabolic disorders. We discuss limitations of current research, including variability in participant characteristics and the extent to which sleep behaviors are modified and monitored. Although the evidence-base for benefits of sleep extension is still in the early stages, studies to date indicate that prolonging sleep, in short sleepers, may improve cardiometabolic risk. Finally, our review calls attention to areas that require further study and for larger scale studies of behavior modification to establish the health effects of sleep extension in short sleepers.




Pizinger, T. M., Aggarwal, B., & St-Onge, M. P. (2018, July 18). Sleep extension in short sleepers: An evaluation of feasibility and effectiveness for weight management and cardiometabolic disease prevention. Frontiers in Endocrinology. Frontiers Media S.A.

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