The present review investigates the role of sleep and its alteration in triggering metabolic disorders. The reduction of the amount of time sleeping has become an endemic condition in modern society and the current literature has found important associations between sleep loss and alterations in nutritional and metabolic aspects. Studies suggest that individuals who sleep less have a higher probability of becoming obese. It can be related to the increase of ghrelin and decrease of leptin levels, generating an increase of appetite and hunger. Sleep loss has been closely associated with problems in glucose metabolism and a higher risk for the development of insulin resistance and diabetes, and this disturbance may reflect decreased efficacy of the negative-feedback regulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. The period of sleep is also associated with an increase of blood lipid concentrations, which can be intensified under conditions of reduced sleep time, leading to disorders in fat metabolism. Based on a review of the literature, we conclude that sleep loss represents an important risk factor for weight gain, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and dyslipidaemia. Therefore, an adequate sleep pattern is fundamental for the nutritional balance of the body and should be encouraged by professionals in the area.