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Sleep and hunger test shows gender differences

Margaret Jack  By Margaret Jack   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Last updated: Wednesday 19th December 2012

Lack of quality sleep has long been known to impact appetite and produce cravings for high energy food, but a new US study has found a surprising difference in the sleep-related hormonal activity of men and women that ultimately leads to hunger. Thirty participants took part in an investigation at a New York research centre where they slept for four hours per night for three days, then seven hours a night for three days, with a three week break in between. Throughout the first part of the study the group were put on a strict calorie-controlled diet, and allowed ‘unlimited access’ to food during the latter part of the experiment. After both sessions blood samples were taken to measure levels of seven appetite-related hormones – including glucose, insulin, leptin, GLP-1 and ghrelin.

It was found that after the shorter sleep sessions, which effectively replicated sleep deprivation, men experienced an elevation in ghrelin, a hunger stimulant, while women had a drop in GLP-1, an appetite suppressant. The results indicate that the ‘hunger’ felt by men is related to a boost in appetite, while women feel increasingly hungry due to feeling less full.

The results of the study were published in the journal Sleep.

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