Always Hungry? Get More Sleep

Losing weight often involves making more time for exercise and cooking at home. Here’s something else we can do: get a good night’s sleep.

A new study adds more evidence to the connection between sleeping enough hours and maintaining a healthy weight.

Researchers from Sweden found that a specific region in the brain that “contributes to a person’s appetite sensation is more activated” to pictures of food after just one night of losing sleep.

Using magnetic imaging, researchers studied the brains of 12 men while they looked at food images. They compared the results after the men had normal sleep and after they had one night without sleep. Their findings were published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

“After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat,” said researcher Christian Benedict in a news release from Uppsala University in Sweden. “Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run. It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight.”

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following guidelines for sleep based on age:

  • Adults should sleep 7 to 9 hours.
  • Teens need 8 hours 30 minutes to 9 hours 15 minutes.

Sources: The National Sleep Foundation; Uppsala University press release; Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

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