Sleep Deprivation Increases Food Purchasing the Next Day

05 September 2013 Wiley

People who were deprived of one night’s sleep purchased more calories and grams of food in a mock supermarket on the following day in a new study published in the journal Obesity, the official journal of The Obesity Society.

Woman With Sleep DeprevationSleep deprivation also led to increased blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, on the following morning; however, there was no correlation between individual ghrelin levels and food purchasing, suggesting that other mechanisms-such as impulsive decision making-may be more responsible for increased purchasing.

Researchers in Sweden were curious as to whether sleep deprivation may impair or alter an individual’s food purchasing choices based on its established tendency to impair higher-level thinking and to increase hunger.

“We hypothesized that sleep deprivation’s impact on hunger and decision making would make for the ‘perfect storm’ with regard to shopping and food purchasing-leaving individuals hungrier and less capable of employing self-control and higher-level decision-making processes to avoid making impulsive, calorie-driven purchases,” said first author Colin Chapman, MSc, of Uppsala University.

On the morning after one night of total sleep deprivation, as well as after one night of sleep, Chapman, along with Christian Benedict, PhD, and their colleagues, gave 14 normal-weight men a fixed budget (approximately $50). The men were instructed to purchase as much as they could out of a possible 40 items, including 20 high-caloric foods and 20 low-calorie foods. The prices of the high-caloric foods were then varied to determine if total sleep deprivation affects the flexibility of food purchasing. Before the task, participants received a standardized breakfast to minimize the effect of hunger on their purchases.

Sleep-deprived men purchased significantly

more calories (+9%) and grams (+18%) of food

than they did after one night of sleep.

 

Sleep-deprived men purchased significantly more calories (+9%) and grams (+18%) of food than they did after one night of sleep. The researchers also measured blood levels of ghrelin, finding that the hormone’s concentrations were higher after total sleep deprivation; however, this increase did not correlate with food purchasing behavior.
“Our finding provides a strong rationale for suggesting that patients with concerns regarding caloric intake and weight gain maintain a healthy, normal sleep schedule,” said Chapman.

Follow up studies are needed to address whether these sleep deprivation-induced changes in food purchasing behavior also exist under partial sleep deprivation, though. Additional research should also look into sleep deprivation’s potential impact on purchasing behavior in general, as it may lead to impaired or impulsive purchasing in a variety of other contexts.

Common Causes Of Memory Slips

BOSTON—Worried that you’re getting more forgetful lately? Chill out, because the stress can contribute to memory slips. In fact, stress is one of the four horsemen of forgetfulness in aging brains, along with anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation, reports the February 2013 Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

When memory seems to slip, many older people wonder if they are sliding into Alzheimer’s disease. Most of the time, the cause of that forgetfulness is something more common and easily remedied.

Disturbances in mood and sleep are among the most common causes of memory problems in adults. Stress and anxiety make it harder to concentrate and lock in new information. Depression can hobble memory, as can alcohol consumption. Some medications can interfere with memory, as can some medical conditions.

A conversation with a doctor can help pinpoint the cause of memory slips—especially if the change is sudden or uncharacteristic. “If it’s worse than it was a few months ago, or somebody is asking you about it, that would definitely be something to see a doctor about,” says Dr. Anne Fabiny, chief of geriatrics at Cambridge Health Alliance and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Sometimes it’s useful to just give the brain a break. “As you get older, it may become more difficult to maintain a high level of attention for several things at once,” Dr. Fabiny says. “Dividing your attention can definitely cause you to think you are having memory problems.”

Read the full-length article: “The four horsemen of forgetfulness”

Also in the February 2013 issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch:

  • Heartburn drug side effects: Should you worry?
  • How to get ready for a total knee replacement
  • Options when erectile dysfunction drugs don’t work
  • Do men need annual check-ups?

The Harvard Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $16 per year. Subscribe at www.health.harvard.edu/mens or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

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