Tiredness may lead to snacking
Staying up late doing homework is always tiring. And perhaps when we become tired, we feel the need to eat unhealthy snack food. Recently scientists have been investigating tiredness and snack food.
According to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, people are more likely to crave snacks when they don't get enough sleep.
For the study, researchers from the University of Cologne in Germany gave the same dinner to 32 healthy men aged between 19 and 33. Half of the men were then sent home to bed, and the other half were kept awake in the laboratory all night.
The next morning, the participants were asked to consider how much they would be willing to pay for snack food items shown to them in pictures.
According to the researchers, all were similarly hungry in the morning, and had similar levels of most hormones and blood sugar.
However, brain scans showed that when the sleep-deprived participants looked at the pictures of junk food, they released more of the "hunger hormone". This is the hormone responsible for increasing the appetite, and making us consume more.
Asked about how much they would pay for snacks, "participants with sleep deprivation were more willing to overspend on food items than those with a good night's sleep," researchers told Science Daily.
Researchers also observed that among the people who hadn't slept, there was greater activity in the part of the brain where food rewards are processed.
The scientists think that sleep-deprived people experience changes to the hunger hormone and the brain's reward system that then leads to a stronger desire to eat snacks with high fat and calories.
"This brings us a little closer to understanding the mechanism behind how sleep deprivation changes food valuation," Professor Jan Peters, a co-author of the study from the University of Cologne, told The Independent.