You probably know the fall out that can happen from lack of sleep—we’ve all experienced the physical and mental symptoms at some point in our lives. Being deprived of sleep makes it hard to concentrate and think clearly. It also makes it hard to muster any sort of physical energy. You may find that you feel clumsy and have a hard time performing even basic tasks.
Here’s another way a lack of sleep can affect your health: poor food choices. According to a recent study, people who are sleep deprived can’t resist buying sugary and fattening treats and snacks. The research team, from the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital in New York, investigated how sleep deprivation altered an individual’s grocery shopping habits.
Fourteen men were recruited for the trial. All the participants had a normal, healthy weight for their age and height. The men were also cleared of having any sleep problems prior to the study that might interfere with results.
The men were then assigned to have one night of normal sleep and then were kept awake for an entire sleep cycle the next night. After both the normal sleep and the sleep deprived night, the participants were given $50.00 to buy groceries from a local supermarket.
Here’s where the researchers added a little twist: the men were given a 40-item food list from which to choose their groceries. Twenty of these foods were low-calorie and 20 were high-calorie. And in case you’re wondering at this point if going without breakfast might play a role in the study results, the research team made sure that everyone had a standard breakfast before doing their grocery shopping.
The researchers found that men who were sleep deprived purchased almost 20% more food compared to when they were well-rested after a normal night’s sleep. Lack of sleep also made the men reach for higher calorie foods. What accounted for these changes?
According to the research team, a hormone associated with hunger pangs called ghrelin was significantly higher in the men when they went without sleep for a night. But they don’t attribute the higher levels of ghrelin as the main reason behind the men’s poor shopping choices. Rather, the researchers cited that sleep deprivation left participants without normal levels of self-control when shopping. Being tired meant the men made more impulsive choices and were unable to exercise higher-level decision making when it came to choosing between high and low calorie foods.
So there you have it: make sure you get a good night’s sleep if you want to maintain a healthy weight. Not only does a healthy sleep help your body and mind to function normally, it also allows you to make healthy choices about what you buy at the grocery store and what foods you ultimately eat to refuel.
The researchers say their study is particularly important for doctors, nurses, shift workers, and other professions where sleep deprivation comes with the territory. If you have to juggle work and/or family needs with trying to get enough sleep, try to shop on a day when you’re well-rested. This advice is also helpful for anyone who suffers from chronic sleep problems.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Whiteman, H., “Lack of sleep leads to increased food purchasing,” Medical News Today web site, Sept. 9, 2013; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265764.php, last accessed Sept. 10, 2013.