Short sleep duration is a risk factor for increased hunger and caloric intake, late-night eating, attenuated fat loss when dieting, and for weight gain and obesity. It is unknown whether altered energy-balance responses to sleep loss are stable (phenotypic) over time, and the extent to which individuals differ in vulnerability to such responses. Healthy adults experienced two laboratory exposures to sleep restriction separated by 60-2132 days. Caloric intake, meal timing and weight were objectively measured. Although there were substantial phenotypic differences among participants in weight gain, increased caloric intake, and late-night eating and fat intake, responses within participants showed stability across sleep restriction exposures. Weight change was consistent in both normal-weight and overweight adults. Weight change and increased caloric intake were more stable in men whereas late-night eating was consistent in both genders. This is the first evidence of phenotypic differential vulnerability and trait-like stability of energy balance responses to repeated sleep restriction, underscoring the need for biomarkers and countermeasures to predict and mitigate this vulnerability.
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