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A little sleep makes you fat: that's why
A little sleep makes you fat: that's why

Sleeping a little makes you fat: numerous studies explain why we eat more and badly when we are tired

When you are sleepy you eat more and badly. Think of all the times you were late in the evening and bivouacked from breakfast onwards the next day without stopping.

Or to long journeys in which planes and time zones are added together and one ends up eating from home to destination in all airports without interruption.

When there is a lack of sleep, the preference falls on sandwiches, desserts, pizzas and junk food in general.

The reason is not only related to the throat, but it is a physical need, and there are more and more studies that show how our brain, sleeping little, is led to induce the body to require more food than necessary, pushing us to prefer, moreover., fatty and caloric foods.

For years, science has been wondering why this connection, now taken for granted. Now a new search is added to the list, adding another piece related to odors.

Here's what emerged.

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The Chicago office

Researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago recently published the results of a study trying to understand the link between sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation. sensitivity of the brain to food odors.

In this way they explained why, when we are tired, we tend to eat worse and gain weight.

To arrive at the result they analyzed the reactions of the participants a two types of stimuli in two different situations: in one case people were confronted with the smell of foods such as french fries and cinnamon rolls and other non-food smells, such as fir trees, with only four hours of sleep behind them.

In the second case, a few weeks later, the same people inhaled the same smells, this time having slept eight hours.

In both situations, the participants underwent an MRI scan for the duration of the experiment.

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The results

The researchers noted that when participants had little sleep, they showed greater activity of the piriformis and orbitofrontal cortex (the areas of the brain that react to odors) in response to food inhalations than they did after a full night's sleep.

This difference, on the other hand, was less marked when they were faced with the smell of fir and other non-food substances.

Which, according to the scientists, would also explain the link between fatigue and increased calorie consumption.

Thus, it is as if the brain smells more strongly when it is in sleep credit.

Other studies, same result

In previous years there have been several researches that have tried to explain the relationship between lack of sleep and increased hunger, also trying to give an answer to the increase in the rate of obesity.

As early as 2012, researchers from the University of Uppsala in Sweden noted that brain regions involved in the sensation of appetite are affected by acute sleep loss. The researchers studied the brains of 12 normal-weight men using functional magnetic resonance imaging while looking at images of food and compared the results after a normal night's sleep with those obtained after a night without sleep. After a night of total sleep loss, these men showed a high level of activation of an area of ​​the brain involved in the desire to eat.

In another study from the University of Chicago, the culprit of this association was identified, the endocannabinoid system, which would awaken as sleep decreases.

This is the same target that is activated after the consumption of marijuana, the one commonly referred to as the "munchies".

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Because those who sleep little get fat

According to Dr. Breus, a clinical psychologist specializing in sleep disorders, the reasons that would push people who sleep little to get fat are basically three: the hormonal imbalance of lack of sleep increases appetite and decreases the sense of satiety; the REM phase is skipped, the final one in which more calories are burned; we tend to be attracted to fatty foods. The end result is that, in the long run, someone who sleeps, for example, six hours a night, could end up with six kilos more in the space of a year, as shown by a Brazilian study.

The white nights of calories

A study by King's College London, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, went further by calculating the calories that are consumed on average during the day when sleeping less than seven hours. From their calculations it emerged that those who sleep less than five and a half hours find themselves with an average of 385 calories more (the equivalent of a portion of tiramisu) than those who rest for over seven hours.

And woe to think that more waking hours equals more calories burned. Those who sleep little spend more time on their feet, but this does not mean greater physical activity and therefore a greater consumption of calories.

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