Could Losing a Good Night’s Sleep Put You at Risk for Obesity?
Do you find junk food looking more delicious after you’ve had a night of poor sleep? You might find that you’re eating more from a bag of chips while you grumpily type away on your computer. It’s not an accident – new research has found that people eat foods high in saturated fat after their sleeping hours have been reduced. Being “early to bed, early to rise” may be one of the keys to successful weight loss.
For the study, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt hospital and Columbia University took men and women ages 30 to 45 as volunteers. The study volunteers had the option of a night of four hours sleep, or a night of up to nine hours of shuteye.
When the researchers allowed the sleep deprived and fully rested individuals to eat whatever they wanted, the sleep deprived individuals consumed 300 calories more on the average, and the food tended to be higher in fat and saturated fat.
All of the study’s volunteers were of normal weight.
A diet of high calorie foods paired with low physical activity may lead to obesity. The disease of obesity is itself associated with a number of co-morbidities.
A second part of the study involved magnetic resonance imaging scans on the brains of men and women in both the sleep deprived and control groups. During the scans, they looked at pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods. Regions of the brain that deal with addiction and pleasure were activated by the site of unhealthy foods for the sleep deprived.
“If you’re trying to control your weight and you want to maintain your body weight, it’s better not to be sleep-deprived,” said Marie-Pierre St. Onge, a research associate at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Centre at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and assistant professor at Columbia.
For many individuals it can be difficult to control weight through healthy food choices and exercise alone. In cases where obese individuals are unable to control their weight through traditional means, and have tried to lose weight several times, surgical weight loss may be an option.