A Good Night's Sleep Improves Food Choices
To eat right tomorrow, get a good night's sleep tonight. Two studies presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies report that sleep-deprived subjects show brain changes that affect their decision-making and predispose them to poor dietary choices. Both were crossover studies, in which 23 and 25 healthy subjects were tested after being shortened on sleep and after sleeping normally; both used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brain activity. The first study compared sleeping normally with staying up all night, with snacks at 2:30 am and breakfast at 8:30 am. Participants were then quizzed about food desires and given fMRI scans. When subjects were well-rested, the scans showed greater frontal-lobe activity in areas indicative of decision making. The second study compared six days of sleep deprivation with normal sleep. When sleep deprived, subjects responded to fatty, sugary foods with brain activity much like that in studies of the obese.
Source:Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, September 2012
Curbing Late Night Hunger Through Relaxation
Regularly practicing relaxation may be an important component of treatment for the condition known as Nighttime Eating Syndrome (NES). NES is characterized by a lack of appetite in the morning, consumption of 50% or more of daily food intake after 6:00 pm, and difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. NEW has been associated with stress and with poor results at attempts to lose weight. Researchers randomly assigned subjects to either a relaxation group (each practicing 20 minutes of progressive relaxation each day) or a control group (each quietly sat for the same amount of time each day). After practicing these exercises daily for a week, the subjects who practiced the relaxation exercise exhibited lowered stress, anxiety, fatigue, anger, and depression. The results indicated that 20 minutes of the muscle relaxation exercise significantly reduced stress, anxiety, and salivary cortisol immediately after each session. Progressive relaxation also was associated with significantly higher morning and lower afternoon and evening ratings of hunger, and a trend toward both more breakfast and less nighttime eating. It follows that relaxation exercises may have a positive effect on preventing obesity.
Source: "Night Eating Syndrom: Effects of Brief Relaxation Training on Stress, Mood, Hunger, and Eating Patters," by F.A. Pawlow, P.M. O'Neil, and R.J. Malcom