Are you one who gets sugar or salt cravings in the middle of the night? Turns out, it might not be due to hunger or boredom.
We all know sleep is important for weight loss, but a new study from the University of Cologne in Germany shows that more specifically, the lack of sleep can increase your junk food cravings. Jan Peters, professor of biological psychology at the University of Cologne in Germany, told HealthDay News that “Our results show that the idea that sleep deprivation leads to poor food choices because of a hormonal dysregulation is probably too simple.”
(Also read: 8 Ways A Lack of Sleep Is Slowly Killing You)
Peters did a study involving 32 young and healthy nonsmoking men who provided blood samples and functional MRIs after comparing proper and improper sleep. On both nights, they are the same thing for dinner and were asked to choose between snacks or non-food items the next morning.
(Also read: 1 in 3 Singaporeans Have Sleep Apnoea. Do You?)
Cause of weight gain
Rather than the hormone ghrelin, which is often blamed for hunger and weight gain, this research team says that the cause is possibly neural.
After a night of insufficient sleep, their brain images had increased activity between amygdala and hypothalamus, the brain regions that are connected to the body’s food intake. Peters said that “sleep loss increased the desirability of food compared to non-food rewards”.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, was not involved in the research but she was surprised that the changed hormone levels were not shown to be linked to their poor food choices, though the study was not able to determine the cause and effect. Even so, it helps people realise that quality is sleep is essential to your body’s basic functions.
(Also read: 10 Ways Singaporeans Can Sleep Better)