One nigh of total sleep deprivation is enough for a brain region known as the “salience network” to send signals to us to eat more fat and eventually gain more weight, says new research.
“Although 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,” said study’s senior author Hengyi Rao from the University of Pennsylvania.
The study involved 34 sleep-deprived participants and 12 controls in a sleep lab for five days and four nights for round-the-clock monitoring.
Sleep deprived participants consumed close to 1,000 calories during overnight wakefulness.They consumed a similar amount of calories the day following sleep deprivation as they did the day following a good night’s sleep.
However, when comparing the macronutrient intake between the two days, researchers found 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 researchers also found that sleep deprived participants displayed increased connectivity within the “salience network,” which is thought to play a role in determining contextually dependent behavioural responses to stimuli that can be either internal or external.
Moreover, increased connectivity in the salience network correlated positively with the percentage of calories consumed from fat and negatively correlated with the percentage of carbohydrates after sleep deprivation.
The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.