Sleep deprivation makes junk food most attractive

Are you deprived of sleep then the most probable chances are that you are attracted to junk food or find yourself drawn to vending machines for drawing junk food. Recent unpublished study do indicate that eating junk food such as sweets, chips, candy, pepperoni pizza etc. seems quite a good option when the concerned individuals were deprived of their normal sleeping patterns. The two part study was conducted by the principal investigator of the research team Dr.Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an assistant professor at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition in New York City that consisted of participants involving 25 men and women of normal weight.

Researchers for the study at St. Luke’s- Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University in New York, in a set of five days performed on each participant a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). These scans were taken after five nights in which the participants were allowed to sleep either for only four hours or allowed to continue up to nine hours of normal sleep. The researchers found that when the participants viewed the images of unhealthy foods while sleep deprived (only four hours of sleep) there was certain activity in the reward centers of the brain in seven different areas but the same activity was absent in the reward center when participants were allowed sufficient sleep.

This unhealthy food response may be due to the cognitive control as told by St-Onge. She further adds that getting a full night’s sleep between seven to eight hours will help people in making better choices. In the same study, the food intake data showed that the participants ate more in totality and also consumed more fat after a period of sleep deprivation when compared to a regular sleep. It is also observed that a self-reported desire for sweet and salty food increases after a period of sleep deprivation. St-Onge further states that the new study results do provide an additional support on the role of short sleep in the obesity and appetite-modulation.

The presentation of this study was made at the–SLEEP-2012- 26th annual meetingof the Associated Professional Sleep Societies held on June.10thin Boston. The National Institute of Health has funded this research. However, further research and review needs to be carried out on this study as it is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal and it may be regarded as a preliminary study that required a further review by the researchers in the field.

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