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Lack of Sleep May Lead to Poor Health Judgement

Jun 18th, 2012

lack of sleep Do you love junk food? Is opting for healthier food alternatives too difficult of a choice for you? Do you always stay up late?  Well your decision to stay up late may actually influence your food choices.

At Sleep 2012, a sleep conference in Boston held earlier this week, researchers suggested that lack of sleep may cause us to opt for foods rich in sugar and fat.

This is following research at St. Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University in New York which MRI’s (magnetic resonance imaging)  were performed on 25 men and women . MRI’s measure the brains activity by detecting changes in blood flow. For five nights they let the subjects sleep for four hours and some nights up to nine hours. Then the respondents had to look at pictures of healthy and unhealthy food – from vegetables and fruits to candy and junk food.

“The same brain regions activated when unhealthy foods were presented were not involved when we presented healthy foods,” Marie-Pierre St-Onge, head investigator of the study, said.“The unhealthy food response was a neuronal pattern specific to restricted sleep. This may suggest greater propensity to succumb to unhealthy foods when one is sleep restricted,” St-Onge said.

Another study was made in which 16 respondents had to go through MRI scanning. The respondents either had adequate normal sleep or had not slept 24 hours prior to scanning. As they were scanned they were asked to rate 80 food items and they told to select the food they desired.

“The unhealthy food response was a neuronal pattern specific to restricted sleep. This may suggest greater propensity to succumb to unhealthy foods when one is sleep-restricted,” Marie-Pierre St-Onge said in a statement.

“I think it’s related to cognitive control,” St-Onge further explains. “Your guard is somewhat down when you’re tired and sleep deprived. Even though you know you probably shouldn’t eat certain foods, when you’re tired you might just decide to go for it.”

According to Stephanie Greer, lead researcher, a person’s taste and health is also hampered when they lack sleep.

This new study further confirms previous studies linking lack of sleep to obesity.

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