A study recently presented in Boston at the APSS set out to prove not getting enough sleep can lead to overeating and weight gain (NB: The study has not yet been published). High-calorie foods were especially attractive to volunteers in a recent study led by Dr. William Killgore, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
Daytime sleepiness makes it harder to regulate behavior related to food intake. Participants in the study were first asked to complete a questionnaire measuring typical daytime sleepiness. Study volunteers rated their appetite and tendency to overeat, as well. After completing the questionnaire, they viewed images of high and low calorie food images in an MRI scanner, which measured brain responses to the food images.
Sleepier individuals showed less activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region that is important for emotional regulation and behavioral control. The bottom line is that sleepiness was associated with lower activation in the behavioral inhibition areas of the brain, and that lower activation was related to a greater tendency to overeat.
While people sometimes overeat when they are sleepy, this isn’t due to increased hunger, Killgore said.
“Basically, they may have had a more difficult time just ‘saying no’ to that extra helping of mashed potatoes or pushing back the plate once they had eaten enough,” said Killgore. With less than adequate sleep, it appears that some of the prefrontal systems that regulate food intake may not be as functionally responsive, which could potentially lead to a tendency to overeat.”
Source: prweb / HMS