Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have discovered that just a few days of sleep deprivation can make us feel less full after eating.
After spending a week getting plenty of sleep at home, 15 healthy men in their 20s checked into the sleep lab for the ten-night study. For five of those nights the men spent no more than five hours in bed each night.
The researchers gave participants a standardized high-fat dinner – a bowl of chili mac – after four nights of sleep restriction.
Most participants felt less satisfied after eating the same rich meal while sleep deprived than when they had eaten it well-rested.
A bowl of mac and cheese only feels filling and satisfying if you are well rested
If you are tired and sleep-deprived, you’ll want a second helping
Lack of sleep also changes the way our bodies metabolize the fats from our food
Researchers also found that men who were sleep deprived tended to store the fat from their evening meal. But when the person was well rested, less fat was stored from their food.
The experimenters had a simulated work week – five nights of only 5 hours of sleep. And a whole weekend of 10 hours sleep per night, to catch up on the lost shut-eye.
But even after the weekend rest, the volunteers biological reaction to food did not revert back to what it was before the experiment.
After the first night of good sleep they ate a bowl of chili mac and cheese. Although participants’ metabolic handling of fat from their food was slightly better after one night of recovery sleep, they didn’t recover to the baseline healthy level.
The experiment shows that the effects of lack of sleep continue, even when we have got back into a good sleep pattern. But the researchers did not find how many nights of good sleep, it takes, to get back to a healthy reaction to high fat food.
It might take several, continuous nights, of good sleep for our bodies to return to what they were before the sleep deprivation period.
Or maybe, or bodies never recover from a period of poor sleep. The experiment ended after 10 days, so the researchers don’t have those answers.
But one thing is clear; for those of us who want to reduce the fat on our bodies, we need to get to bed and get some quality shut-eye. Sweet dreams!