Short sleep duration has been linked to impaired glucose metabolism in many experimental studies. Moreover, studies have reported indications of an increased metabolic stress following sleep restriction.
We aimed to investigate the effects of partial sleep deprivation on markers of glucose metabolism. Additionally, we aimed to investigate if short sleep duration induces a state of endocrine stress.
A randomized crossover design, with 2 experimental conditions: 3 consecutive nights of short sleep (SS, 4 h/night) and long sleep (LS, 9 h/night) duration.
Subjects and Measurements:
In 21 healthy, normal-weight male adolescents (mean ± SD age: 16.8 ± 1.3 y) we measured pre- and post-prandial glucose, insulin, C-peptide, and glucagon concentrations. Furthermore, we measured fasting cortisol, 24-h catecholamines, and sympathovagal balance.
Fasting insulin was 59% higher (P = 0.001) in the SS than the LS condition as was both fasting (24%, P < 0.001) and post-prandial (11%, P = 0.018) C-peptide. Pre- and post-prandial glucose and glucagon were unchanged between conditions. The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index was 65% higher (P = 0.002) and the Matsuda index was 28% lower (P = 0.007) in the SS condition compared to the LS condition. The awakening cortisol response and 24-h norepinephrine were not affected by sleep duration, whereas 24-h epinephrine was 24% lower (P = 0.013) in the SS condition. Neither daytime nor 24-h sympathovagal balance differed between sleep conditions. Short wave sleep was preserved in the SS condition.
Short-term sleep restriction is associated with decreased insulin sensitivity in healthy normal-weight adolescent boys. There were no indications of endocrine stress beyond this.