Lack of sleep boosts food purchases the next day
Posted By Howard LeWine, M.D. On September 6, 2013
Savvy shoppers know that it’s a bad idea to shop for food when they are hungry. It’s a formula for filling your cart with high calorie foods, and likely spending more money than expected. Shopping while sleep deprived may have the same effect.
That finding comes from an interesting experiment done by a team of Swedish researchers. They asked 14 men to go grocery shopping twice—once on the morning after a good night’s sleep, the other on a morning after a night of no sleep. All were given the equivalent of $50 to spend, and were asked to buy as much as they could out of a possible 40 items, including 20 high-caloric foods and 20 low-caloric foods. To make sure the men weren’t hungry, they were fed a solid breakfast before grocery shopping.
The men bought more food, and more high-calorie foods, the morning after sleep deprivation than after sleeping well. The results were published yesterday online in the journal Obesity.
We’ve known for some time that not getting enough sleep is linked to weight gain. It’s possible that shopping may contribute to this phenomenon. Lack of sleep may contribute to weight gain via other possible mechanisms. Too little sleep may
It’s interesting that the researchers chose men rather than women for this experiment. Perhaps in Sweden, where the study was done, men do more of the grocery shopping. In the United States, we certainly need to see if the results will be the same in women.
For years, research on weight gain and obesity has focused on genes, foods, diets, and physical activity (or the lack of it). This study from Sweden, along with many others, are showing that our behaviors also play important roles in weight maintenance and weight gain. A good example of this work is the research conducted by Cornell University’s Brian Wansink and colleagues on “mindless eating.”
You can put the Swedish study into practice today. Be aware of how your body responds when you don’t get enough sleep. Whenever possible, shop for food only on days when you’ve gotten at least seven hours of sleep—and don’t go to the grocery store hungry. And when you know you are sleep deprived and tired, focus on mindful eating even more than usual.
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