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Sleep Deprivation Leads to High-Calorie Food Purchasing

j6j2GE9uwao6ogEyBsteVyA2yztSNtdHZpiws9tpIkdKAQAAAQEAAEpQ_260x196With such a busy lifestyle today, most people, except infants and children, were or are in sleep deprivation status. Sleep deprivation leads to impairment of many cognitive functions, including decision-making ability. This may not only result in mistakes at work, but also leads to skyrocketed waistline unknowingly. Researchers found that people in sleep deprivation would automatically choose to purchase high-calorie foods more than normal amount.

Sleep deprivation makes you eat more?

Professor Christian Benedict in Uppsala University, Sweden, is very interested in the correlation between sleep deprivation and obesity, and previously his research team found that for people who were deprived for a whole night’s sleep, the activity in anterior cingulate cortex (located in right side of brain) became more active when they saw images of foods. This brain area is thought to be related to people’s feeling towards foods. If brain reacts strongly towards foods, then the resultant action is possible to be purchasing and eating more foods. In order to investigate this issue, Professor Benedict conducted another study to understand whether sleep deprivation could affect people’s decision-making on food purchasing.

The brain wants to store foods not because of starving, but lack of sleep?

They invited 14 males with normal weight and let them experience normal sleeping and sleep deprivation of a whole night’s sleeping, then the participants were asked to take part in a virtual shopping test. In the test, they must use up a fixed amount of money (approximately $50) to purchase foods for the next several days. 40 kinds of foods were available in the test, among which 20 were high-calorie foods while 20 are low-calorie foods. No matter the calorie content, the amount of ready-to-eat foods and need-to-cook foods are the same.

 The results show that at the same budget, the group who has been deprived of a whole night’s sleeping is prone to purchase more foods with higher calories. Compared to the group has normal sleeping, people under sleep deprivation would purchase 18% more foods calculated by grams, and the total calorie content increases by nearly 10%. The researchers also discovered that without a whole night’s sleeping, the concentration of ghrelin in blood increases, however, this phenomenon is irrelevant to the amount and calorie content when purchasing foods, suggesting that sleep deprivation leads to purchasing more high-calorie foods not because of starving, but because the brain decides to store more foods.

The research might not be sufficient, but the major enemy to maintain healthy weight may be the desire toward high-calorie foods.

The study might be insufficient somehow and more possibilities need to be explored. First off, the study only employed male participants and hence it can’t be expanded to females. In addition, the experimental method was virtual shopping, which is different from actual shopping in supermarkets.

 For creatures in nature, lack of sleeping normally happens when facing against enemies, and at such circumstances, eating or storing more foods can help get through dangerous situations. However, in modern society, people suffer from this protection mechanism since humans’ enemy is only humans themselves and the desire they created, while food, is one of the most horrible desires.


Acute sleep deprivation increases food purchasing in men.


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