Sleep Deprivation Could Increase Hunger, Study Suggests

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Not getting enough sleep could affect how hungry you are, according to new research.

The researchers from the German Universities Tubingen and Lubeck and Uppsala University in Sweden found that sleep deprivation is linked with feeling hungrier and having higher blood levels of ghrelin (also known as the hunger hormone).

The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.

The study aimed to look at how sleep is linked with levels of hunger, bodily energy use and physical activity.

The researchers found that the amount of sleep a person gets is linked with feelings of hunger -- meaning, the more sleep-deprived a person was, the more hunger he or she felt. In addition, the findings suggested that when a person stayed awake for a whole night, it decreased the amount of energy use performed by the body while resting.

People who had disrupted sleep the night before also had less physical activity the following day.

This is certainly not the first time a study has shown a link between sleep deprivation, hunger and weight. A recent study from Northwestern University showed that people who regularly stay up late are also more likely to eat unhealthier food, weigh more and eat more during the evening, compared with people who go to bed early.

That study, which was published in the journal Obesity, showed specifically that people who regularly go to bed late and wake up late consume an added 248 calories a day than people who go to bed early and wake up early.

Plus, a study published earlier this year in the journal SLEEP showed that sleep could actually help to lower the effect of genes on weight, USA Today reported.

"The less sleep you get, the more your genes contribute to how much you weigh. The more sleep you get, the less your genes determine how much you weigh," study researcher Nathaniel Watson, neurologist and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center, told USA Today.

And finally, a study presented last month at the SLEEP 2012 conference suggested that we are less able to resist the call of junk food when our brains are sleep-deprived. That research, conducted by St. Luke's – Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University, showed that the reward centers in the sleep-deprived brain had more activity in response to seeing junk food, compared with a well-rested brain.

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