A Penn Medicine study has revealed that healthy adults consumed a greater percentage of calories from fat and a lower percentage of calories from carbohydrates during the day following total sleep deprivation. The study found that a region of the brain known as the 'salience network' is responsible for this occurrence.
Senior author Hengyi Rao said, "We wanted to uncover whether changes in regional brain function had an impact on our eating behavior following sleep deprivation and this work has implications for the approximately 15 million Americans who work the evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other employer arranged irregular schedules."
The researchers also found that sleep deprived people displayed increased connectivity within the salience network, which is located toward the front of the brain and consists of three sections, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral putamen, and bilateral anterior insula. It is thought to play a role in determining contextually dependent behavioral responses to stimuli that can be either internal or external, and is one of several key brain networks that carry out various aspects of brain function. Increased connectivity in the salience network can be correlated positively with the percentage of calories consumed from fat and negatively correlated with the percentage of carbohydrates after sleep deprivation.
Rao added, "We believe this is the first study to examine the connection between brain network connectivity and actual macronutrient intake after baseline sleep and after total sleep deprivation. Though this study examined the effects of acute total sleep deprivation, similar changes may occur in response to the chronic partial sleep restriction that is so prevalent in today's society."
The new findings have been published in Scientific Reports.