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Role of sleep and circadian disruption on energy expenditure and in metabolic predisposition to human obesity and metabolic disease.

ABSTRACT

Weight gain, obesity and diabetes have reached alarming levels in the developed world. Traditional risk factors such as over-eating, poor nutritional choices and lack of exercise cannot fully account for the high prevalence of metabolic disease. This review paper examines the scientific evidence on two novel risk factors that contribute to dys-regulated metabolic physiology: sleep disruption and circadian misalignment. Specifically, fundamental relationships between energy metabolism and sleep and circadian rhythms and the impact of sleep and circadian disruption on metabolic physiology are examined. Millions of individuals worldwide do not obtain sufficient sleep for healthy metabolic function, and many participate in shift work and social activities at times when the internal physiological clock is promoting sleep. These behaviours predispose an individual for poor metabolic health by promoting excess caloric intake in response to reduced sleep, food intake at internal biological times when metabolic physiology is not prepared, decreased energy expenditure when wakefulness and sleep are initiated at incorrect internal biological times, and disrupted glucose metabolism during short sleep and circadian misalignment. In addition to the traditional risk factors of poor diet and exercise, disturbed sleep and circadian rhythms represent modifiable risk factors for prevention and treatment of metabolic disease and for promotion of healthy metabolism.