Lost Sleep Makes Men Bad Grocery Shoppers

Lost sleep is becoming ever more tightly linked to obesity. In a new publication by Colin Chapman and colleagues, we have one more reason to believe the connection is real: bad food choices. The study appears online in the journal Obesity.

Chapman showed in his controlled study that men bought more calories and more grams of food after total sleep deprivation than they did after a night of sleep. He also found that they had higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone associated with hunger.

In both groups, the men received a standardized breakfast before shopping to minimize the potential that hunger was driving their decisions. Chapman observed that increases in the hunger hormone in sleep deprived men were not correlated with the effects of sleep deprivation on food purchases.Enhanced MRI Scan of the Head

Coincidentally, another new study sheds light on how this effect might work. Just published in Nature Communications, the study used functional MRI to examine how the brains of healthy young adults respond to food images after a sleepless night, compared to a normal night of sleep.

What they found was impairment of the frontal lobe governing complex decision-making, and increased activity in areas of the brain that deal with rewards and addictive behavior. They also found a preference for high-calorie snacks and junk foods when subjects were sleep deprived.

Click here to read the Chapman study, click here to read more about the fMRI study in the Huffington Post, and click here to access the study in Nature Communications.

Morning Shopping, photograph © Éole Wind / flickr

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