Losing Sleep Could Make you Eat More Fatty Foods

Losing Sleep Could Make you Eat More Fatty Foods

Sleep is more important to us than we may think and studies are showing that sleep deprivation might be linked to the body’s desire to consume fatty foods.  Just missing one night of good healthful rest can make alterations in the brain’s salience network and this may create triggers to eat more of the wrong things the following day. 


A study by Hengyi Rao, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, assistant professor of cognitive neuroimaging in neurology and psychiatry in the division of sleep and chronobiology has shown some specific results regarding the salience network as a brain pathway that is related to guidance in decision-making.  The response of the brain in brain scan analysis for sleep loss allowed a predictive guideline for the team to measure the increased fat intake potential of an individual following reduced sleep.


"This study is the first to link [such] changes in regional brain function with actual food intake after sleep deprivation," Rao said. The findings have been reported in Scientific Reports.  The authors of the study detailed the three sections of the salience network that are all located at the front portion of the brain. These are collectively involved in the interpretation and onset of sensory perception, emotions and mental strategizing.


The members of the study were nonsmokers and indicated that they had a routine nightly sleep between 6.5 and 8.5 hours per night. None of the members of the study suffered from any ongoing psychological complications or particular sleep problems or disturbances. The study group was requested to spend five consecutive days (which included four nights) in the sleep laboratory. They began with a full nights rest totaling to nine hours of bed time, followed by brain scans to record the results of normal network following a full night’s sleep. The next step of the study involved random selection of thirty four members to participate in the ‘sleep-deprived’ group for the second night. This equated to keeping them away all night, while the remaining participants received eight hours of sleep.

Brain scans were again conducted and all of the participating members of the study were allowed to watch TV, move about, play board or video games, read and eat as little or as much as they wanted. Food was ordered from an available menu and all food intake was recorded. The results of the study included the fact that the sleep-deprived participants consumed approximately 950 extra calories after their forced situation of remaining awake all night. When the content of the calories were broken down, those that had gone through sleep deprivation consumed less carbohydrates and a lot more fat than those who had received a good night’s sleep. The sleep-deprived group also showed a greater salience network function increase.

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