Do you often grab some fatty snacks to cheer up on a tiring day? It may be because of sleep debt than cravings.
A new study published in the Journal SLEEP revealed that sleep deprivation stimulates a particular region of the brain associated with hunger and food intake.
Researchers from the University of Chicago compared healthy adults who were made to sleep for 8.5 hours versus 4.5 hours. They were given similar meals at 9 am, 2 pm and 7 pm.
‘Activation of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system may be involved in excessive food intake and increased risk of obesity associated with insufficient sleep.
They measured circulating concentrations of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and its structural analog 2-oleoylglycerol (2-OG). They found the levels of 2-AG verified in the middle of the night and increased in the afternoon among participants in both the groups.
But in people who were sleep deprived, 2-AG concentration elevated, resulting in increased hunger and intake of fatty snacks. Thus, sleep restriction is associated with the activation of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system, a key component involved in modulating appetite and food intake.
"The rise in 2-AG could be 'a mechanism by which recurrent sleep restriction results in excessive food intake, particularly in the form of snacks, despite minimal increases in energy need", the researchers said.
Reference: Hanlon EC, Tasali E, Leproult R, Stuhr KL, Doncheck E, de Wit H, Hillard CJ, Van Cauter E. Sleep restriction enhances the daily rhythm of circulating levels of endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol. SLEEP 2016; 39(3):653-664.