Skip to main content

Written by: Rafael Guimaraes de Lima E Silva

Despite sleep being vital for humans, more than one-third of the world’s adult population sleeps less than 7 hours a night. Sleep restriction can increase the risk of weight gain, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes (van Egmond et al., 2023).

A recent study, published by Nutrients, suggests that sleep restriction time may modulate the effect of acute sleep loss on appetite regulation in healthy men, facilitating weight gain. Therefore, adequate sleep is essential to avoid weight gain and, consequently, metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. (Meyhöfer et al., 2023).

To achieve adequate sleep time recommended by public health authorities, some precautions are necessary. Modern times favor a high use of screens and substances to reduce drowsiness, such as coffee and energy drinks, which can be one of the main causes of poor sleep quality (Chaput et al., 2023).

The number of sleep disorders has also increased following the COVID-19 pandemic. A study published by Wong et al. showed that the sleep pattern of preschool children was altered and brought about a higher prevalence of sleep disorders (Wong et al., 2023).

Screen time

The use of smartphones and electronic devices has increased exponentially. Among children and adolescents, total screen time can exceed one-third of the day, and their screen use is associated with recreational activities such as games and television. Meanwhile, adults use devices for texting, phone calls, and modern jobs that require a substantial amount of electronic device usage (Chaput et al., 2023).

Extensive screen use can have several negative effects on sleep due to intense exposure to light at night, which can reduce melatonin levels, a hormone responsible for regulating activity-rest and sleep-wake cycles (Wams et al., 2017).

Sleep-disrupting substances

Due to the high degree of stress in school and work, the ingestion of sleep-disturbing substances, such as caffeine and energy drinks, has been widely used by young people and adults (Fulgoni, Keast, & Lieberman, 2015). These substances can reduce sleep time, sleep efficiency, and satisfaction levels (Clark & Landolt, 2017).

In addition, current studies show that the hormones ghrelin and leptin, responsible for controlling satiety and appetite, are affected by sleep and circadian rhythms among healthy adults (Chaput et al., 2023; van Egmond et al., 2023). Therefore, attention to the quantity and quality of sleep is important for weight maintenance and a good quality of life.


Chaput, J.-P., McHill, A. W., Cox, R. C., Broussard, J. L., Dutil, C., da Costa, B. G. G., … Wright, K. P., Jr. (2023). The role of insufficient sleep and circadian misalignment in obesity. Nature Reviews. Endocrinology, 19(2), 82–97. doi:10.1038/s41574-022-00747-7

Clark, I., & Landolt, H. P. (2017). Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 31, 70–78. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.006

Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd, Keast, D. R., & Lieberman, H. R. (2015). Trends in intake and sources of caffeine in the diets of US adults: 2001-2010. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101(5), 1081–1087. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.080077

Meyhöfer, S., Chamorro, R., Hallschmid, M., Spyra, D., Klinsmann, N., Schultes, B., … Wilms, B. (2023). Late, but not early, night sleep loss compromises neuroendocrine appetite regulation and the desire for food. Nutrients, 15(9), 2035. doi:10.3390/nu15092035

van Egmond, L. T., Meth, E. M. S., Engström, J., Ilemosoglou, M., Keller, J. A., Vogel, H., & Benedict, C. (2023). Effects of acute sleep loss on leptin, ghrelin, and adiponectin in adults with healthy weight and obesity: A laboratory study. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 31(3), 635–641. doi:10.1002/oby.23616

Wams, E. J., Woelders, T., Marring, I., van Rosmalen, L., Beersma, D. G. M., Gordijn, M. C. M., & Hut, R. A. (2017). Linking light exposure and subsequent sleep: A field polysomnography study in humans. Sleep, 40(12). doi:10.1093/sleep/zsx165

Wong, O. Y., Au, C. T., Yuen, H. M., Yu, K. N., Lan, Q. Y., Chan, N. Y., … Chan, K. C. (2023). Impact of COVID-19 on the sleep-wake patterns of preschool children. Sleep Medicine, 101, 50–57. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2022.10.012


Rafael Guimaraes de Lima E Silva is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Photo credit: Marcus Aurelius via Pexels