Chronic Circadian Disruption and Sleep Restriction Influence Subjective Hunger, Appetite, and Food Preference

Andrew W. McHill, Joseph T. Hull, Elizabeth B. Klerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Chronic circadian disruption (CCD), such as occurs during rotating shiftwork, and insufficient sleep are each independently associated with poor health outcomes, including obesity and glucose intolerance. A potential mechanism for poor health is increased energy intake (i.e., eating), particularly during the circadian night, when the physiological response to energy intake is altered. However, the contributions of CCD and insufficient sleep to subjective hunger, appetite, food preference, and appetitive hormones are not clear. To disentangle the influences of these factors, we studied seventeen healthy young adults in a 32-day in-laboratory study designed to distribute sleep, wakefulness, and energy intake equally across all phases of the circadian cycle, thereby imposing CCD. Participants were randomized to the Control (1:2 sleep:wake ratio, n = 8) or chronic sleep restriction (CSR, 1:3.3 sleep:wake ratio, n = 9) conditions. Throughout each waking episode the participants completed visual analog scales pertaining to hunger, appetite, and food preference. A fasting blood sample was collected to assess appetitive hormones. CCD was associated with a significant decrease in hunger and appetite in a multitude of domains in both the Control and CSR groups. This change in hunger was significantly correlated with changes in the ghrelin/leptin ratio. These findings further our understanding of the contributions of CCD and insufficient sleep on subjective hunger and appetite as well as of their possible contributions to adverse health behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1800
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • circadian misalignment
  • ghrelin
  • insufficient sleep
  • leptin
  • shiftwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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