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Sleep deprived? Don’t go grocery shopping

By Staff, Relaxnews

First Published Sep 09 2013 09:19 am • Last Updated Sep 09 2013 02:31 pm

Short on sleep? If so, steer clear of supermarkets and food shops, at least according to a new Swedish study that finds sleep deprivation can drive you to spend a lot of money on junk food.

It’s already been established that even one night of bad sleep can lead to increased blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger the next day. But in findings published Sept. 5 in the journal Obesity, the researchers say that ghrelin levels weren’t associated with food purchasing.

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Rather, they posit that sleep deprivation could trigger other mechanisms, such as impulsive decision-making, which is why that giant bag of cheese puffs seems like such a good idea.

"We hypothesized that sleep deprivation’s impact on hunger and decision making would make for the ‘perfect storm’ with regard to shopping and food purchasing — leaving individuals hungrier and less capable of employing self-control and higher-level decision-making processes to avoid making impulsive, calorie-driven purchases," said first author Colin Chapman of Uppsala University in Sweden.

The research team recruited 14 healthy men to participate in two situations: stay awake for one night, then go grocery shopping the next morning, and secondly, sleep as usual and then go shopping.

Having only a fixed budget of 300 SEK (approximately $50), the men were instructed to purchase as much as they could out of a possible 40 items, including 20 junky foods and 20 healthier options. The prices of the fatty, high-caloric foods were then varied to determine if total sleep deprivation affects the flexibility of food purchasing. Before going shopping, the subjects consumed a normal breakfast. Findings showed that the tired men purchased significantly more calories and more food overall than they did after a night of normal sleep.

"Our findings provide a strong rationale for suggesting that patients with concerns regarding caloric intake and weight gain maintain a healthy, normal sleep schedule," said Chapman.

While the research shows the most extreme example of sleep deprivation, staying up all night, coming up a few hours short here and there could play a role in cutting into your resistance to fatty foods, a concept backed by previous research. In fact, a separate study announced last month from the University of California found evidence that a lack of sleep causes changes in brain activity that lead to people feeling hungrier and craving more fattening foods.




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