Swedish researchers have discovered that sleep loss can cause a specific brain region associated with appetite to be activated.
Specifically, investigators discovered the brain region to be more activated in response to food images after one night of sleep loss than after one night of normal sleep.
Investigators believes this finding suggests that poor sleep habits can affect a person’s risk of becoming overweight in the long run.
The findings are published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
In prior research, neuroscientists Drs. Christian Benedict and Helgi Schiöth found that a single night of total sleep loss in young normal weight men curbed the energy expenditure the next morning. This research also showed that subjects had increased levels of hunger, which indicates that an acute lack of sleep may affect human’s food perception.
In this new study, researchers examined how the regions in the brain involved in appetite sensation are influenced by acute sleep loss.
Investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of 12 normal-weight males while they viewed images of foods. The researchers then compared the results after a night with normal sleep with those obtained after one night without sleep.
Said Benedict, “After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat.
“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. It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight.”
Source: Uppsala University