Sometimes I wonder why in the world my olfactory senses come under a massive assault when I walk across the food court in the local mall and other days it does not bothers me at all. I mean sometimes the smell of Cinnabons comes wafting my way and the next thing you know I am ordering 2 with extra cream cheese frosting. That with a tall latte from Starbucks and I am set. Or am I?
New research is coming out of the My CNS annual meeting in San Fransisco is showing that sleep deprivation increase olfactory sensations to odors. Especially food odors. This helps explain why people who burn the candle at both ends tend to eat more and gain weight.
At the American Heart Association’s annual Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism conference, researchers found that sleep deprivation is associated with overeating. In the study, people who were sleep deprived ate more than 500 additional calories daily. If this remains a constant then we end up eating an extra 15,000 calories a month. This equates to a gain of 1 pound per week. This might help explain why as a nation we are one of the most overweight.
When tired, participants showed greater brain activity in two areas involved in olfaction — the piriform cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex — in response to food smells than they did when well rested. That spike wasn’t seen in response to nonfood odors, says study coauthor Surabhi Bhutani, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
By showing that early olfactory responses to food odors are elevated in a sleep-deprived state, the results highlight a role for bottom up modulation in sleep-dependent appetite and eating behavior.
In other words when we are sleep deprived our bodies will seek out food that is high in fat, sugar, and salt. We won’t crave protein foods, we will crave junk food. That my friends is a great reason to get 8 hours of sleep nightly.
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