New study: Why lack of sleep makes us hungry
People who sleep too little are more likely to grab fat, salty and sweet snacks to satisfy their cravings. This increases the risk of being overweight and obese. Scientists have now found that a cannabis-like substance is apparently responsible for the weakening self-control.
Lack of sleep is a health hazard
Numerous scientific studies have already shown that lack of sleep is unhealthy. It not only ensures constant tiredness and high blood pressure, but is in many cases even the cause of diabetes and heart attacks.In addition, you can get fat due to a lack of sleep, because if you sleep too short, you become hungry for fattening foods like fat and sweet snacks. Earlier studies have shown this. A new study has now shown why our self-control is weakening in this state. Substances with drug-like effects are released in the body.
Appetite for drug-like substances
Those who sleep little at night are less able to withstand unhealthy foods. He eats more and runs the risk of becoming overweight. According to experts, why this is the case has to do with hormones. Fatigue causes the ghrelin level to rise. This hormone increases appetite. At the same time, the level of the satiety hormone leptin drops. However, scientists led by Erin Hanlon from the University of Chicago have now discovered that chronic sleep deprivation further affects appetite. Endocannabinoids, the body's own cannabis-like substances, seem to play a role here.
Two-part sleep experiment
To get to the bottom of the causes of cravings, 14 healthy adults underwent a two-part sleep experiment. They were initially allowed to spend four days in the clinical research center, received three meals a day, and slept for about seven and a half hours, according to the Washington Post. During the second four-day stay, everything was identical except for the amount of sleep. The subjects slept only 4.2 hours on average. During the test phases, the hormones ghrelin and leptin were regularly measured in the participants' blood. The researchers also examined the blood for the body's cannabinoid 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), which docks in the body with the same receptors as the intoxicating ingredients of the cannabis plant.
Keep desire in check
As the scientists in the specialist magazine "Sleep" report, the 2-AG level in the sleep-away study participants was low in the morning, peaked shortly after noon and then decreased again. However, when the subjects had to get out of bed after barely more than four hours of sleep, 2-AG rose more and did not peak until around 2 p.m. The endocannabinoid level remained elevated until evening. The participants in the tired state felt more hungry. This impression was also confirmed experimentally in the further course. According to the researchers, when the test subjects were given a large bowl of snacks for free to take out two hours after lunch, the tired people had great difficulty in keeping their cravings in check. They therefore consumed almost twice as many calories as those in a well-rested state.
With sleep deprivation it is difficult to resist
It is therefore not surprising that lack of sleep can hit the hips. "We found that sleep deprivation amplifies a signal that can increase the hedonistic aspect of food intake," said Hanlon. "If you have a snickers and have had enough sleep, you can control your natural response." However, when sleep deprivation is no longer so easy, the ability to resist can be impaired. Somewhat problematic about the study is the small number of participants and the short investigation period. (ad)