Lack of sleep? Keep away from the buffet

New research from Uppsala University shows that sleep-deprived people select greater portion sizes of energy-dense snacks and meals than they do after one night of normal sleep. Poor sleep habits can therefore affect people's risk of becoming overweight in the long run. The findings are published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.

In a previous article, published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the researchers from the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University have shown that a single night of total sleep loss in young normal weight men increases the activation of a brain region involved in a desire to eat.

In the new study, Pleunie Hogenkamp and Christian Benedict, and their colleagues, have systematically examined whether sleep-deprived people select greater of energy-dense and meals under buffet-like conditions. To this aim, 16 normal-weight males were asked to select their ideal portion sizes of 7 meal and 6 snack items, in both hungry and sated conditions.  In one condition, they were sleep-deprived, in the other condition they had a night with approximately 8 hours sleep.

Pleunie Hogenkamp, the main author of the present study, explains:

"After a night of total sleep loss, these males chose greater portion sizes of the energy-dense foods. Interestingly, they did so both before and after a breakfast, suggesting that sleep deprivation enhances food intake regardless of satiety. Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people's risk to gain weight in the long run."

More information: Hogenkamp PS et al. Acute sleep deprivation increases portion size and affects food choice in young men. Psychoneuroendocrinology, in press.

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