AANP via Nature Communications

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Scientists have found a link between inadequate sleep and decision-making about food choices, suggesting that problems with sleep could play a part in developing obesity or remaining overweight.

The researchers took powerful scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brains of healthy adults the morning after a normal night of sleep and again, a week later, after a sleep-deprived night. Both times they were connected to sleep monitoring equipment in order to check the levels of sleep they got. The brain scans were generated as participants were asked to rate pictures of 80 different foods. High-calorie foods became significantly more desirable when participants were sleep-deprived. They found that sleeplessness reduces higher order powers of the brain and creates an excessive response in more primitive parts of the brain, leading to poor food choices.

This combination of altered brain activity and decision-making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese. Essentially, our power over food is blunted by a lack of sleep.

This study was released August 7, 2013 by the journal, Nature Communications, and is now available for online access at http://tinyurl.com/m8yreq6 for a fee

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