Posted on Feb 07, 2012, 6 a.m.
Swedish researchers report that people who are short on sleep experience greater levels of hunger.
Previously, researchers from Uppsala University (Sweden) showed that a single night of total sleep loss in young normal weight men curbed the energy expenditure the next morning. This research also showed that subjects had increased levels of hunger, which indicates that an acute lack of sleep may affect human’s food perception. In follow-up research, Christian Benedict and colleagues have found that a specific brain region that contributes to a person’s appetite sensation is more activated in response to food images after one night of sleep loss than after one night of normal sleep. The team systematically examined which regions in the brain, involved in appetite sensation, are influenced by acute sleep loss. By means of magnetic imaging (fMRI) the researchers studied the brains of 12 normal-weight males while they viewed images of foods. The researchers compared the results after a night with normal sleep with those obtained after one night without sleep. After a night of total sleep loss, these men showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat. Writing that: “These results provide evidence that acute sleep loss enhances hedonic stimulus processing in the brain underlying the drive to consume food, independent of plasma glucose levels,” the study authors submit that: “These findings highlight a potentially important mechanism contributing to the growing levels of obesity in Western society.”
Christian Benedict, Samantha J. Brooks, Owen G. O'Daly, Markus S. Almèn, Arvid Morell, Helgi B. Schioth, et al. “Acute Sleep Deprivation Enhances the Brain's Response to Hedonic Food Stimuli: An fMRI Study.” J Clin Endocrinology & Metabolism, January 18, 2012.