ISLAMABAD, July 13 (TNS): Scientists have found evidence that a lack of sleep causes changes in brain activity that lead to people feeling hungrier and craving more fattening foods.
Researchers have long pointed to a correlation between a steep rise in obesity in industrialized nations and a decline in sleep duration.
A causal link was suspected, but science has not been able to explain the mechanism, until now.
A team from the University of California said they used MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans to spot changes in the brain activity of sleep-deprived test subjects.
“These findings provide an explanatory brain mechanism by which insufficient sleep may lead to the development/maintenance of obesity,” said researchers. Twenty-three participants had their heads scanned twice; once after a full night of sleep and once after being deprived their shut-eye for a night -their brain activity measured the next day as they selected items and portion sizes from pictures of 80 different food types, Medical Xpress reported. Among the fatigued individuals, the researchers noted impaired activity in regions of the cortex that evaluate appetite and satiation.
Simultaneously, there was a boost in areas associated with craving. “An additionally interesting finding was that high calorie foods became more desirable to the sleep deprived participants,” said study co-author Matthew Walker of the psychology department at the University of California in Berkeley.