When sleep is too short, cravings for fattening foods

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Little sleep makes you hungry

Those who sleep too little have a greater appetite for fattening foods. This was the result of two studies by US researchers, which were recently presented at the “SLEEP 2012”, the annual conference of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Boston. Accordingly, lack of sleep and obesity are often related.

There is a connection between lack of sleep and obesity
People who sleep too little have a greater appetite for unhealthy food. Deprivation of sleep activates certain reward centers in the brain that require calorie bombs for the reward effect. In addition, superordinate brain functions that are responsible for reason-based decisions are impaired. Areas related to instinct continue to function normally. As a result, decisions with the mind - such as resisting the craving for unhealthy food - cannot be made effectively or only to a limited extent. If people get enough sleep, the brain areas function normally, so that there is no oversized desire for unhealthy food. US researchers have uncovered the connection between lack of sleep and obesity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). "Our results suggest that people who sleep poorly find unhealthy foods highly conspicuous and rewarding," said Marie-Pierre St-Onge of Columbia University Medical Center. This results in the increased consumption of these foods and the typical cravings.

For their investigation, St-Onge and her colleagues analyzed the brain activity of 25 men and women who were shown pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods. The fMRI scans were taken when the subjects had slept for a maximum of four hours and after five nights in which they had slept up to nine hours. The researchers compared the images and found that the same areas of the brain that were active when viewing the unhealthy food images were not active in the healthy food images. However, this is a neural pattern limited to lack of sleep, St-Onge emphasized. The results would indicate that the tendency to resist the temptation to eat unhealthy food is less pronounced when there is a lack of sleep than after adequate sleep.

Lack of sleep affects brain areas for reasoned decisions About the second study, Stephanie Greer from the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley reported at the annual conference: “Our goal was to find out whether certain brain regions involved in the processing of food stimuli were due to sleep deprivation 23 healthy adults were interviewed in two sessions about their desire for different foods while fMRI scans were performed. While the subjects had had enough sleep before one session, they appeared to the other after getting too little sleep.

It turned out that sleep deprivation had a major impact on the activity of the frontal lobe in the brain. This area is significantly involved in behavior control and complex decisions. The brain regions associated with basic reward responses were not affected. According to Greer, lack of sleep can lead to higher brain functions no longer being able to counteract instinct-driven desire. "These results shed light on how the brain is affected by sleep deprivation, which leads to the selection of unsuitable foods."

Lack of sleep slows metabolism Orfeu Buxton from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and his team recently found that lack of sleep encourages underactive pancreas. People who work shifts or who frequently have to take intercontinental flights are at increased risk of type II diabetes. According to scientists, lack of sleep and a shift in the day-night rhythm lead to a disruption of the internal clock. As a result, the pancreas can only produce a smaller amount of insulin and the sugar can concentrate in the blood. The increased blood sugar level can in turn trigger diabetes. In addition, the researchers found that the subjects had a slow metabolism at rest, which can promote the development of overweight. (ag)

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