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Lack of sleep may prompt cravings


A natural appetite stimulant that the body produces to create cravings for food may be promoted by insufficient sleep, potentially leading to over-eating and eventual weight gain, says a new US study. The study, carried out at University of Chicago Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, furthered earlier research into sleep quality and weight gain by identifying the molecule that may be behind the body’s reaction - 2-arachidonoylglycerol, or 2-AG.

Nine participants, with an average age of twenty-three, took part in the study, with their sleep quality and physical reactions studied over twelve nights in a laboratory over the course of a month. With carefully controlled sleep durations of either 8.5 hours (normal) or 4.5 hours (restricted) the subjects were given meals with limited calorie content, and blood samples were taken to analyse their 2-AG levels.

It was found that the appetite stimulant levels were lowest halfway during sleep and highest in early afternoon, where researchers noted that the ‘pleasurable properties of food’ would be most beneficial. It is thought that the appetite increasing effects found in other similar studies may be down to boosted 2-AG levels.

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