Sleep Deprived Men Buy More Junk Food

Anyone trying to lose or maintain weight has experienced this before: a mountain of treats displayed beautifully at the grocery store, beckoning us to break our healthy eating commitment. Now, new research shows your ability to resist food temptations while shopping is closely linked to whether or not you've gotten enough sleep.

Researchers publishing in the journal Obesity examined whether sleep deprivation played a role on shoppers' purchasing decisions. Their study included a group of 14 healthy, normal weight men with normal sleep-wake rhythms.

The men were asked to have a full night of regular sleep, followed by a night of total sleep deprivation. After each night, the participants were told to purchase as much as possible from a grocery list with 40 items. The list contained 20 low?-calorie foods and 20 high-calorie foods.

After sleep deprivation, men bought 9% more calories and 18% more food compared to a shopping day after a good night's sleep.

The researchers also analyzed blood samples to track changes in a hormone called ghrelin which increases hunger. Just one night without sleep significantly increased ghrelin levels.

Sleep deprivation can also impair higher-level thinking and self-control. Previous research has shown that a bad night's sleep can negatively affect frontal lobe functioning in the brain, an area key for choosing healthy foods. The combination of increased ghrelin and poor decision making capabilities causes the "perfect storm" for unhealthy food purchasing behavior, researchers said.

So whether you're trying to lose or maintain weight, catching enough z's may be as important as exercise and diet. Getting more sleep isn't the only way to build will power. A new study showed that specific tasks aimed at rewarding "delayed gratification" can improve women's abilities to resist food temptations.



Chapman CD, et al. Acute sleep deprivation increases food purchasing in men. Obesity 2013; doi: 10.1002/oby.20579.

Whiteman, H. (2013, September 9). "Lack of sleep leads to increased food purchasing." Medical News Today. Retrieved from