When we are deprived of sleep, we tend to eat more. And even more inclined, according to German researchers, to give in to the temptation of junk food. This is detrimental to our physical health.
But also to our mental health. Indeed, British researchers are now making the link between junk food and depression.
Lack of sleep encourages us to snack. This is nothing new. But a recent study by researchers at the University of Cologne (Germany) tells us that we prefer fatty or sweet foods. In short, poor sleep leads to poor eating.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers measured the ghrelin levels in the blood of the volunteers who participated in their experiment. Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates our appetite. The researchers found that ghrelin concentrations were higher in the morning — at the same meal the night before — in patients who had been deprived of sleep overnight, than in others.
Brain MRIs have also shown an increase in hypothalamus and tonsil activity after sleep deprivation. The former controls appetite and the latter is associated with the reward circuit. As a result, sleep-deprived volunteers were particularly interested when they were offered chocolate bars or chips in the early morning. This is enough to make the link between lack of sleep and obesity a little more pronounced.
Junk food increases depressive symptoms
And perhaps also, make an indirect link between sleep deprivation and depression. Another study, conducted this time at Manchester Metropolitan University (United Kingdom), warns us that junk food increases our risk of depression.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed data from 11 studies involving a total of more than 100,000 people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and living in different countries. People whose diets were high in cholesterol, saturated fat and carbohydrates were on average 1.4 times more likely than others to have depressive symptoms. Their explanation: these foods are believed to cause chronic inflammation of our brains.
“These results have considerable clinical potential for the treatment of depression,” says Dr. Steven Bradburn. Changing a patient’s diet could be an interesting alternative to medication. An alternative with only positive side effects. However, it should be noted that our results show an association rather than causality. Further work is needed to confirm the effectiveness of modulating eating habits in the treatment of depression. »