Sleep, Stress, & Obesity: A Weighty Issue

How is Sleep Related to Obesity? Sleep and Weight Gain

Erica P. Gunderson, RD, MS, MPH, PhD
Senior Researcher
Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Erica P. Gunderson, RD, MS, MPH, PhD is a Research Scientist II in perinatal epidemiology at the Division of Research (DOR), Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland. From 2001-2002 she was a Scholar in the DOR and University of California, San Francisco, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program and a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), School of Public Health. She received her Doctorate degree in Epidemiology and the Warren Winkelstein Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies in Epidemiology in 1998 from UC Berkeley, and earned both Master’s of Public Health and Master’s of Science in Nutritional Sciences degrees in 1981 from the same university. In 1978, she received a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 1978. She conducts longitudinal epidemiologic studies that assess postpartum behaviors, including lactation, sleep and lifestyle behaviors in relation to postpartum weight retention. She has authored over 45 peer-reviewed original research papers.


How is Sleep Related to Obesity? Sleep Epidemiology

Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, PhD 
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University

Dr. Maurice M. Ohayon is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center. He is a physician (MD), psychiatrist, and Doctor in Mathematics and Computer Sciences (DSc). He also has a PhD in Biology. He has authored or co-authored over 200 articles and book chapters and he wrote 5 books in psychiatry, computer sciences and sleep medicine. Over the last 15 years, his research has focused on the epidemiology of sleep and mental disorders in the general population and on artificial intelligence tools. He is leading several research projects on sleep and related disorders in the European and American general population.


Sleep Disturbances, Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: Interacting Epidemics

Eve Van Cauter, PhD
Professor of Medicine
University of Chicago

Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D. is the Frederick H. Rawson Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, where she directs the the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center (SMAHC). A native of Belgium, she obtained her MS in Physics (1970), MS in Actuarial Sciences (1972), and Ph.D. in Biophysics (1977) from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. In 1982, Eve Van Cauter joined the Section of Endocrinology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago. During the past decade, research in her laboratory focused on the impact of decreases in sleep duration and quality on markers of health and the interaction of sleep loss with the aging process. Her group identified sleep loss and poor sleep quality as novel risk factors for obesity and diabetes. It is widely considered that this work opened up a new field of enquiry of high relevance to the current epidemic of obesity and diabetes and the increased prevalence of age-related chronic diseases. Her ground breaking article on the “Impact of a sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function” (Spiegel KS, Leproult R and Van Cauter E. The Lancet, 354: 1435-1439, 1999) has been cited more than 700 times. In recent years, her efforts have focused on the impact of obstructive sleep apnea on the risk and severity of type 2 diabetes.


Obesity and Sleep: The Early Origins of Disease

Susan Redline, MD, MPH
Professor of Sleep Medicine
Harvard University Medical School

Dr. Redline is the Peter C. Farrell Professor of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. She directs Programs in Sleep and Cardiovascular Medicine and Sleep Medicine Epidemiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Redline’s research primarily includes epidemiological and clinical trial approaches to 1) elucidate the etiologies of sleep disorders (particularly sleep apnea), including the role of genetic and early life developmental factors, and 2) understand cardiovascular and other health outcomes of sleep disorders and the role of sleep interventions in improving health. She leads the Sleep Reading Center for a number of major NIH multicenter studies, including the Sleep Heart Health Study and has led several large cohort studies including the Cleveland Children’s Sleep and Health Study. She has served the sleep research community in a number of capacities, including as a member of the Boards of Directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, the NIH's Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board, and the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research.


Sleep and Stress

Aric A. Prather, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Aric Prather is a clinical-health psychologist and new Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF; September 2012). His research focuses on complex interactions between psychological processes and sleep as they relate to physical and mental illness. With specialized training in psychoneuroimmunology, his research on the immune system as a key physiological mechanism in the link psychology and health. Dr. Prather was recently awarded at Career Development Award (K08) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to investigate whether sleep serves as a novel behavioral pathway linking chronic psychological stress and inflammatory processes related to cardiovascular disease. In addition, he collaborates with several faculty at UCSF to examine how sleep influences incidence and progression of deleterious metabolic conditions, including obesity.


Physical Activity: A Neglected Factor in Associations of Obesity with Short and Long Sleep

Shawn Youngstedt, PhD
Professor, School of Public Health
University of South Carolina
Dorn VA Medical Center

Shawn Youngstedt is an Associate Professor in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina and the Dorn VA Medical Center. His work focuses on non-pharmacological treatments for sleep and PTSD; the effects of chronic moderate sleep restriction; and risks of long sleep (>8 hours).


Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Sleep Disparities: A Key Factor in Health Disparities?

Michael Grandner, PhD
Research Associate, Division of Sleep Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Grandner completed his undergraduate degree in Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology at the University of Rochester, where he worked with Dr. Michael Perlis and Dr. Donna Giles. He then went on to earn his PhD from the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego, working with Dr. Daniel Kripke. After a clinical internship at UCSD and the San Diego VA, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, under the mentorship of Dr. Allan Pack. Dr. Grandner is currently a licensed clinical psychologist and Research Associate in the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines cardiometabolic outcomes associated with habitual sleep duration and sleep disturbance, as well as behavioral and contextual determinants of sleep in the population. This work in particular has led to a number of studies of sleep disparities associated with race/ethnicity and socioeconomic position. He is widely published in the academic literature and is actively involved in various positions within the Sleep Research Society, the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, and the Pennsylvania Sleep Society.


The Adolescent Health Paradox: An Affective Neuroscience Perspective and its Implications for Intervention and Policy

Ronald Dahl, MD
Professor, School of Public Health
Director, Institute of Human Development
University of California, Berkeley

Ronald E. Dahl is Professor of Community Health and Human Development in the School of Public Health and the Director of the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley. He is a pediatrician with long-standing research interests in the development of regulatory systems (e.g. sleep/arousal and affect regulation) and their relevance to the development of behavioral and emotional disorders in children and adolescents. His current work focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to understanding adolescent brain development, as a developmental period with unique opportunities for early intervention and prevention in relation to a wide range of behavioral and emotional health problems. He has published extensively on adolescent development, sleep disorders, and behavioral/emotional health in children, and his work, increasingly, is focusing on the policy implications of this work.


Stephanie Greer
PhD STudent
University of California, Berkeley

Stephanie Greer is a PhD candidate in the Helen Wills neuroscience program in Dr. Matthew Walker's sleep and neuroimaging lab at UC Berkeley. She studies the role of sleep in reward processing and decision-making (including food decisions) using human neuroimaging techniques.