A study, reported in the journal JNeurosci, has shown that one night of sleep deprivation can raise the appeal of food. This study was conducted by researchers at the University of Cologne.
The results of the study propose that sleep loss increases the individual value of food. And this happens independently of hormonal effects.
Basically, sleep loss is recognized to be linked with an increased risk of obesity. But preceding research has ascribed this weight gain to changes in parameters of endocrine after sleep loss. Currently, obesity is considered a major disease and is sometimes viewed as a true “epidemic”.
However, neuroimaging studies have also verified that upregulated neural food processing rewards following sleep deficiency in reward-processing areas of the brain.
To consider the influence of homeostatic versus hedonic aspects, researchers investigated the comparative contribution of decision-making procedures and hormones to the people’s choices which they make about food after sleep deprivation.
Epidemiological studies propose a link between overweight and reduced night sleep, but the relative contributions of hormonal and hedonic factors to overeating after sleep deprivation are a matter of continuing debate.
Therefore, the researchers thoroughly tested the association between sleep deprivation and food processing. This was done through hormone assessment and high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
For asssessment, researchers recruited 32 thin healthy men and took their blood samples. These participants then underwent fMRI while they did a decision-making task including snacks and bauble rewards after they had either had a full night of sleep or been kept up in the laboratory.
The research team reports that the subjective value of food items was increased after sleep deprivation when compared with non-food items in a way which was independent of hormonal effects.
It was found that only individuals in the sleep deprivation group were ready to spend more money on food. The neuroimaging fMRI data verified a food reward-specific upregulation of a circuit including the amygdala and hypothalamus following sleep loss.
The study points to one way that sleep loss may indorse overeating and increase the risk of obesity. The findings of the study indicate that increased food assessment after sleep loss is due to hedonic rather than hormonal mechanisms.