Excessive daytime sleepiness has been associated with obesity in humans. However, experimental studies on sleep in obese animals are scarce and the results are not consistent. To test the hypothesis that obesity is associated with increased sleep, we examined the effects of obesity, induced by high-fat food, on sleep in mice. We first determined baseline sleep in adult C57BL/6 mice (6 months of age). In the following 6 weeks, the experimental mice (n = 12) were switched to high-fat food, in which fat provided 59% of calories, and the control mice (n = 11) were continuously fed with regular lab chows, in which fat provided 16% of calories. The body weights increased steadily in the high-fat group, but maintained constant in the controls. Wakefulness was reduced when assessed after 2, 4, and 6 weeks of high-fat feeding. Concurrently, there were large increases (about 80-100 min/day) in non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS). Rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) was not altered. The numbers of NREMS and REMS episodes were increased, whereas the duration of waking episodes was reduced, mainly during the dark period. These alterations in sleep were not observed in the controls. In the high-fat group, the increases of body weight, but not the amounts of energy intake, were negatively correlated with the change in the amounts of wakefulness and positively correlated with the change in the amounts of NREMS. These results indicate that the obese animals have increased sleep pressure and difficulties in maintaining wakefulness during the active phase.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience