When you lose out on even just one night of sleep you end up binging on food, especially high calorie food, a new study suggests.
Not only does a loss of sleep decrease your self-control and decision-making abilities, but it also seems to make you hungrier. These two factors work together to make you reach for that donut after losing sleep.
"We hypothesized that sleep deprivation’s impact on hunger and decision making would make for the 'perfect storm' with regard to shopping and food purchasing—leaving individuals hungrier and less capable of employing self-control and higher-level decision-making processes to avoid making impulsive, calorie-driven purchases," study researcher Colin Chapman, of Uppsala University, said in a press release.
The new study was published Sept.5 in the journal Obesity. The researchers kept 14 normal-weight people away overnight, given breakfast, then gave them $50 to go grocery shopping. Half of the foods they could choose from were low-calorie, and half were high-calorie.
The subjects ended up buying more calories, and more food, than they did if they weren't sleep deprived. Even though the men had eaten, they had higher levels of ghrelin in their blood, a hormone that makes you feel hungry and want to eat.
The new study builds on a bunch of older research about sleep and obesity. When low on sleep our brains crave fattier foods, likely because they will provide a quick burst of energy.
Another study showed that losing sleep disrupts your metabolism, changing the way your fat cells respond to insulin, the hormone released when we eat sugar. Sleep deprived people reacted to insulin in ways similar to diabetics.
Keeping up a normal sleep schedule and get eight full hours a night may help people lose weight and eat less.
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