Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Could a Bad Night's Sleep Make You Eat More Fatty Food?


Study suggests it might, raising the risk for potential weight gain

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Skipping just a single night of sleep leads to a shift in brain activity that seems to spark a desire to consume more fat the following day, a new study suggests.

The study offers potential insights into the relationship between lack of sleep and the risk of obesity, researchers said.

"The main finding of this study is that one night of sleep loss altered function within the brain's 'salience network,' " explained study senior author Hengyi Rao.

The salience network is a pathway in the brain thought to guide decision-making, according to Rao. He is an assistant professor of cognitive neuroimaging in neurology and psychiatry within the division of sleep and chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.

What's more, Rao added, a brain scan analysis revealed exactly how the network changed in response to sleep loss, which ultimately enabled his team to accurately predict how much more fat an individual might consume following lack of sleep.

"This study is the first to link [such] changes in regional brain function with actual food intake after sleep deprivation," he said.

Rao and his colleagues reported their findings recently in Scientific Reports.

The study authors explained that the salience network is composed of three sections that are all positioned at the front part of the brain. These areas are collectively involved in the onset and interpretation of emotions, sensory perception, and mental strategizing.

To explore the network's reaction to a lack of sleep, the study enlisted 46 healthy, mostly non-obese adults aged 21 to 50.

All were nonsmokers, and all said they routinely slept between 6.5 and 8.5 hours a night. None suffered from any particular sleep disturbances or any ongoing medical or psychological complications.

All were asked to spend five consecutive days (including four nights) in a sleep laboratory. On the first night all got a full night of rest, amounting to nine hours of time spent in bed, after which brain scans were conducted to record normal network function following good sleep.

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