News article

Sleep loss linked to unhealthy food habits

Posted:  Thursday, January 07, 2016

Inadequate sleep leads to unhealthy eating! The subject of sleep and its impact on health is a growing area of research. Now, a new study has found that less sleep may contribute to unhealthy dietary habits.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, sought to understand the influence of sleep loss on appetite and eating patterns. The researchers enrolled young, healthy, sleep-deprived volunteers for the study.

The results were interesting. The researchers found that the volunteers were unable to refuse highly palatable and rewarding snacks like cookies, candy and chips. This response was observed even when they had eaten a meal only two hours before, which met 90 percent of their daily caloric needs. The influence of sleep deprivation on appetite peaked at late afternoon and early evening, when snacking has been associated with weight gain.

Dr. Erin Hanlon, PhD, a research associate in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Chicago explained that sleep restriction increased the hedonic aspect of food intake and the satisfaction gained from eating. This spur is attributed to stimulation of the endocannabinoid system, which culminated into a rise in the blood levels of 2-arachidonoylglycerol.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about a third of Americans sleep less than seven hours at night. Moreover, obesity is prevalent in more than a third of adults in the USA. Consequently, this study has a potential for great impact on the sleep and dietary habits of the average American citizen.