Sleep deprivation encourages unhealthy food purchases
People who were deprived of one night of sleep bought more calorie-laden food the next day in a mock supermarket, according to a study published in Obesity. Sleep deprivation also lead to an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which increases hunger, but researchers did not find a connection between this hormone and the poor food choices. Rather, they say it is a result of impulsive decision-making.
Researchers wanted to put to the test a well-established tendency for sleep deprivation to impair higher-level thinking and increase hunger, but with food purchasing choices. For the study, researchers examined 14 normal-weight men on the morning after a night of total sleep deprivation and again after a night of sleep. The men were given a fixed budget of $50 and instructed to purchase as much as possible out of 40 items, including 20 high calorie foods and 20 low calorie foods. The price of the high calorie food was varied to determine if sleep deprivation affects the flexibility of food purchasing. Participants were given breakfast before the task to minimize the effect of hunger on their purchases.
Results showed that sleep-deprived men bought 9 percent more calories and 18 percent more grams of food than they did after a night of good sleep. They also had higher concentrations of the hormone ghrelin after being sleep deprived. But, they say this increase in ghrelin did not factor into food purchasing behavior.