Nutrients (Aug 2019)

Multiple Dimensions of Sweet Taste Perception Altered after Sleep Curtailment

  • Edward J. Szczygiel,
  • Sungeun Cho,
  • Robin M. Tucker

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 9
p. 2015


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Short sleep duration increases preferences for high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods. It is unclear if insufficient sleep-induced changes in food preference are mediated by changes in taste perception and if these changes are related to sweetener type (sucrose or sucralose) or sweet liking phenotype. The primary objective of this study was to determine if sleep curtailment results in changes in sweet taste perception after sleep curtailment. Forty participants used a single-channel electroencephalograph to record both a habitual and curtailed night (33% reduction) of sleep at home. The following morning, multiple dimensions of sweet taste perception were measured, including preferred sweetener concentrations, patterns of sweet liking, and intensity perception over a range of concentrations. After curtailment, a significant increase in preferred concentration for both sucrose and sucralose (p < 0.001 for both) was observed. The slope of sucrose sweet liking increased after curtailment (p = 0.001). The slope of sucralose liking also increased, but this was not significant (p = 0.129). Intensity perception of the sweeteners was not altered by curtailment. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to classify participants by sweet liking phenotype. Phenotypes were found to predict preferred sweetener concentration. These findings illustrate a possible need to control for sleep in food sensory studies and suggest a potential mechanism by which insufficient sleep can lead to excess energy intake.