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More Sleep May Cure Junk Food Cravings

Dorathy Gass

For those who crave their chips, chocolate, and candies, there may just be hope for curbing your appetite. As it turns out, a new study is suggesting that more sleep can help; with the research finding a link between sleep deprivation and an enhanced appetite as it relates to junk foods.

The Centers for Disease Control recently revealed that one out of three American adults don’t get adequate sleep, and apparently approximately the same percentage of U.S. adults suffer with obesity. As such, Erin Hanlon, study author and research associate, University of Chicago looked into a link between these two issues, that largely affect this nation.

Hanlon notes that evidence from epidemiological and lab research has revealed that lack of sleep can be connected with an enhanced chance of obesity. Insufficient sleep is a factor, because it increases hunger, due to the balance between nutrients and the energy needed for an individual to stay awake; which remains approximately the same, regardless of sleep.

The research, which was recently published in Sleep journal looked at 14 young and (otherwise) healthy adults who were given four nights of normal sleep (8.5 hours), versus individuals with four nights of only 4.5 hours of sleep. Both groups were given pre-prepared, healthy meals. On the last day of the study, individuals were offered their healthy meal, and then allowed access to a snack bar which had indulging treats in it, that researchers dubbed as ‘rewarding snacks’, including: candy, chips, and cookies. With absolute free reign to these snacks, the sleep-deprived participants gravitated to the treats, eating close to double the protein and fat, as well as more carbs.
A prior study from the team revealed that insufficient sleep affected endocannabinoids levels, which are chemicals within a person’s brain, regulating their appetite.

CNN reported that the team measured the concentration of 2AG (a specific endocannabinoid) in the blood, and matched these levels according to food intake and hunger. For those who had adequate sleep, 2AG slowly heightened within the blood throughout the day, hitting its peak during the early afternoon; while the researchers noticed an overall higher 2AG concentration increase for those who did have adequate sleep, and this hunger lasted well into evening. Not only were these individuals far hungrier, but likelier to eat those savory and sweet treats offered to them.

While the study was a small one, the team also conducted statistical tests on data, which provided proof that there were enormous differences between the two sets of participants.

Hanlon stated that the study was a vital step in understanding the link between weight, insufficient sleep, and the endocannabinoid system. She also noted that inadequate sleep has been connected to many negative health issues, and believes that spreading awareness around the role proper sleep plays in healthy lifestyle is important.

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