Category Archives: sleep

Late night eating and the effects of sleep deprivation

Man Trying to SleepCan’t get to sleep? It might be best not to snack during your sleepless hours. We already know that late-night eating is an unhealthy idea. We tend to eat bad food during those hours — junk is far more appealing than healthier options in the early hours. We put on weight due to the extra calories we consume. Overall it’s not the best idea to replace our sleep with food. And new research is confirming that idea.

Eating less late at night may help curb the concentration and alertness deficits that accompany sleep deprivation, according to results of a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that will be presented at SLEEP 2015, the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

“Adults consume approximately 500 additional calories during late-night hours when they are sleep restricted,” said the study’s senior author David F. Dinges, PhD, director of the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry and chief of the division of Sleep and Chronobiology. “Our research found that refraining from late-night calories helps prevent some of the decline those individuals may otherwise experience in neurobehavioral performance during sleep restriction.”

The study gave 44 subjects, ages 21 to 50, unlimited access to food and drink during the day, followed by only four hours of sleep each night for three nights. On the fourth night, 20 participants received continued access to food and drinks, while the 24 others were allowed only to consume water from 10:00 p.m. until they went to sleep at 4:00 a.m.

At 2 a.m. each night, all subjects completed a variety of tests to measure their working memory, cognitive skills, sleepiness, stress level and mood.

During the fourth night, subjects who fasted performed better on reaction time and attention lapses than subjects who had eaten during those late-night hours. In addition, subjects who ate showed significantly slower reaction times and more attention lapses on the fourth night of sleep restriction compared to the first three nights whereas study subjects who had fasted did not show this performance decline.

While countless studies associate numerous physical and mental health benefits with a healthy night’s sleep, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention reports that “insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic” in the United States, including the estimated 50 to 70 million U.S. adults suffering from sleep and wakefulness disorders.

The new study results serve as a book end to other research on the links between eating and sleep deprivation. A 2013 study from the same Penn team found that individuals with late bedtimes and chronic sleep restriction may be more susceptible to weight gain due to the increased consumption of calories during late-night hours.

The research team also includes Andrea Spaeth, PhD, and Namni Goel, PhD.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 NR004281, F31 AG044102); the Penn Clinical and Translational Research Center (UL1RR024134); and the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (Award No. N00014-11-1-0361).

In a related study (Abstract #0332), the same team of Goel, Spaeth and Dinges, found that adults who are chronically sleep restricted may need to compensate for decreased morning resting metabolic rate by reducing caloric intake or increasing physical activity to prevent weight gain. That research was led by senior author Namni Goel, PhD, a research associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry and the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry.

“Short sleep duration is a significant risk factor for weight gain and obesity, particularly in African Americans and men,” Goel said. “This research suggests that reducing the number of calories consumed can help prevent that weight gain and some of the health issues associated with obesity in Caucasians and particularly in African Americans.”

The NIH reports that 69 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, and other health problems.

In the study, 36 healthy adults, ages 21 to 50, slept for their usual amount for two nights. Next, they spent four hours in bed each night for five nights, followed by one night of 12 hours of recovery sleep. The control group of 11 subjects received 10 hours in bed each night for six nights. Resting metabolic rate, or measure of the amount of energy used in a relaxed condition, and respiratory quotient, or the ratio of the volume of carbon dioxide to oxygen used in a time period, were measured after overnight fasting.

In the experimental group, resting metabolic rate decreased after five nights of sleep restriction and returned to baseline levels after recovery sleep. No changes in resting metabolic rate were observed in control subjects.

Sleeping is better than wakefulness at night. But if you can’t get to sleep, thinks that there are plenty of good reasons NOT to give in to late night food cravings. While all of us wrestle with bouts of sleeplessness from time to time, it’s important to keep in mind that our first response to that sleeplessness might not be the best for our health.

Sleep well and make better food choices spends a lot of time advocating for nutritional awareness. The more educated consumers become, the more conscious they will be regarding their food choices. Knowledge is power … and that’s just as true when it comes to nutrition as it is for any other subject. But nutritional awareness and education often encompass subjects outside of actual food products and ingredients. Subjects like exercise and sleep tend to have affects on our health and well-being as well.

Today we learned that new research coming out of the University of California Berkeley is linking lack of sleep to less-than-desirable food choices. A sleepless night might actually make you more likely to crave a doughnut or a slice of pizza. The research is raising new questions about the link between poor sleep and obesity.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), UC Berkeley researchers scanned the brains of 23 healthy young adults, first after a normal night’s sleep and next, after a sleepless night. They found impaired activity in the sleep-deprived brain’s frontal lobe, which governs complex decision-making, but increased activity in deeper brain centers that respond to rewards. Moreover, the participants favored unhealthy snack and junk foods when they were sleep deprived.

It appears that high-level brain regions that are involved in complex judgments and decisions become blunted by lack of sleep. At the same time, that lack of sleep causes more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire to become amplified. High calorie foods become more desirable when sleep-deprived because of this combination of altered brain activity and decision making.

Previous studies have linked poor sleep to greater appetites, particularly for sweet and salty foods, but the latest findings provide a specific brain mechanism explaining why food choices change for the worse following a sleepless night.

In this newest study, researchers measured brain activity as participants viewed a series of 80 food images that ranged from high-to low-calorie and healthy and unhealthy, and rated their desire for each of the items. As an incentive, they were given the food they most craved after the MRI scan.

Food choices presented in the experiment ranged from fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, apples and carrots, to high-calorie burgers, pizza and doughnuts. The latter are examples of the more popular choices following a sleepless night. wants to emphasize the importance of healthy lifestyle as it contributes to healthy food choices. Physical exercise and adequate sleep will contribute to how we approach our diets. Healthier food choices aren’t simply dependent on our food awareness, they are also the result of our lifestyle habits. Let’s make the best choices possible for our overall healthy lifestyle and our food choices will follow accordingly!

Getting enough restful sleep may be important to maintaining healthy weight

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Of course it always made sense. When you’re well-rested, you’re functioning at a higher level, you think more clearly and are more in tune with the world around you. Today, found another reason we should all try to follow those wise words. More sleep … and better sleep may have an effect on our weight.

A study has been released from the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania that suggests that healthy adults with later bedtimes and chronic sleep restriction may gain more weight than those who schedule earlier bedtimes and sleep undisturbed.

The study, which appears in the July issue of the journal SLEEP, is the largest, most diverse healthy sample studied to date under controlled laboratory conditions. Results show that sleep-restricted subjects who spent only four hours in bed from 4 a.m. until 8 a.m. for five consecutive nights gained more weight than control subjects who were in bed for ten hours each night from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m.

It’s probably not surprising that the weight increase in the sleep-restricted participants was due to an increase in the number of meals consumed during the late-night period of wakefulness. It may be surprising though, that it was also determined that during that late-night period, those subjects consumed more calories from fat than they did during daytime hours.

The study group was comprised of 225 healthy, non-obese people ranging in age from 22 to 50 years old. Participants were randomly selected for the sleep-restricted group or the control condition group and spent up to 18 consecutive days in the laboratory. Meals were served at scheduled times, and food was always available in the laboratory kitchen for participants to eat at other times of the day as they chose. Subjects could move around the lab, but were not allowed to exercise. Watching television, reading and playing video games and other sedentary activities were allowed.

Researchers noted that they were surprised to find significant weight gain during an in-laboratory study with a defined time parameter. There have been previous studies suggesting an association between short sleep duration and weight gain and/or obesity. This particular study also found gender and ethnicity differences seemed to play a role in the weight gain of sleep restricted participants. thinks that this study information might be useful in regards to the obesity epidemic. It states fairly clearly that when people stay up later, or are wakeful at night, they are eating more. And their choices for those late night meals appear to be less healthful than the choices they are making during daytime hours. Of course, better sleep means better rest for our bodies, but it also seems to mean better food choices during our waking hours and less consumption of fatty foods when we really need to be sleeping. We should be aware of this information and conscious about our food intake when we are up late. And of course, we should make every effort to get to bed when we need to in order for our bodies to take advantage of the rejuvenation we experience from real, restful sleep.

7 heart attack symptoms that Women often overlook

appleheart looks into what signs Women may not want to avoid when it comes to their health and their heart’s. Conventional wisdom has it that heart attacks come out of the blue. We’re also trained to expect a heart attack to happen a certain way: The victim clutches his chest, writhes in pain, and collapses. But for women, it often doesn’t happen that way. Study after study shows heart attacks and heart disease are under-diagnosed in women, with the explanation being that they didn’t have symptoms.

But research shows that’s not the case. Women who’ve had heart attacks realize, looking back, that they experienced significant symptoms — they just didn’t recognize them as such.

In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 95 percent of women (that’s almost all!) who’d had heart attacks reported experiencing symptoms that were decidedly new or different from their previous experience a month or more before their attacks.

Even when a heart attack is occurring, women are often slow to realize what’s happening and call a doctor. The reason? Women’s heart attack symptoms are different than men’s. This failure to recognize heart attack signs in women has led to a grim statistic: Women are more likely to die from sudden cardiac death than men are, and two thirds of women who have a heart attack don’t recover completely.

To prevent a heart attack from sneaking up on you, watch for these 7 little-known signs of heart attack

The Top Little-Known Signs of Heart Attack

Fatigue. More than 70 percent of women in the NIH study reported extreme fatigue in the month or months prior to their heart attacks. This was not just your run-of-the-mill tiredness — the kind you can power through — this was an overwhelming fatigue that sidelined them from their usual schedules for a few days at a time.

Sleeplessness or Insomnia. Despite their fatigue, women who’ve had heart attacks remember experiencing unexplained inability to fall asleep or stay asleep during the month before their heart attacks.

Anxiety and Stress. Stress has long been known to up the risk of heart attack. But what women report is the emotional experience; before their heart attacks they felt anxious, stressed, and keyed up, noticeably more than usual. Moments before or during a heart attack, many women report a feeling they describe as “impending doom;” they’re aware that something’s drastically wrong and they can’t cope, but they’re not sure what’s going on.

Indigestion or Nausea. Stomach pain, intestinal cramps, nausea, and digestive disruptions are another sign reported by women heart attack patients. Become familiar with your own digestive habits, and pay attention when anything seems out of whack. Note especially if your system seems upset and you haven’t eaten anything out of the ordinary.

Shortness of Breath. Of the women in the NIH study, more than 40 percent remembered experiencing this symptom. One of the comments the women made is that they noticed they couldn’t catch their breath while walking up the stairs or doing other daily tasks.

Flu-Like Symptoms. Clammy, sweaty skin, along with feeling lightheaded and weak, can lead women to wonder if they have the flu when, in fact, they’re having a heart attack.

Jaw, Ear, Neck, or Shoulder Pain. While pain and numbness in the chest, shoulder, and arm is a common sign of heart attack (at least, among men), women often don’t experience the pain this way. Instead, many women say they felt pain and a sensation of tightness running along their jaw and down the neck, and sometimes up to the ear, as well. The pain may extend down to the shoulder and arm–particularly on the left side–or it may feel like a backache or pulled muscle in the neck and back.

In addition to the symptoms they do have, women differ from men in another significant way — they may not experience many of the symptoms we traditionally associate with heart attacks. This, experts say, is a major reason why women’s heart attacks go unrecognized and untreated. Almost half of all women in the NIH study felt no chest pain, even during the heart attack itself. Numbness is another symptom women may not experience, experts say.

If your body is doing unusual things and you just don’t feel “right,” don’t wait. Go see your doctor and ask for a thorough work-up. And if you have any risk factors for cardiac disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, or family history of heart disease, mention these to the doctor. Time is of the essence, so don’t count on medical staff to know your background or read your chart — tell them your risk factors right away, so your condition can be evaluated fully and completely.

Information provided by: Yahoo health

Do you eat in your sleep?


For Leslie, it all started around menopause: the fatigue, the weight gain and the eating in the middle of the night. Sometimes she would have absolutely no memory of getting up to eat, but would find a mess in the kitchen. Other times, she would feel half-awake but out of control and compelled to get out of bed and find food.

I had a strong suspicion that Leslie had a parasomnia that we call sleep-related eating disorder. The key features are: 1. Nocturnal eating while asleep or half-asleep and therefore there is no or little recall of the events but there is evidence of eating or there are witnesses. 2. Bizarre and sometimes dangerous things are consumed. 3. Elaborate food preparation often takes place but in a careless, sloppy manner 4. There are often underlying eating disorders and/or a primary sleep disorder. As she continued her story, I became more convinced that indeed Leslie had this disorder.

At first, the episodes occurred perhaps once a week, then it was more frequent and now it was nearly every night. At first, the things that she was eating were pretty normal but rarely very healthy. Carbs, fat and the occasional protein.

She was alarmed by the time that she made a baked potato in the middle of the night. “Do you know how long it takes to bake a potato! It scares me that the episodes last that long and also the reason I know that I baked it in the oven, rather than microwaving it, is because the oven was still on in the morning.”

Then the things that she was eating got a bit bizarre. For example, one time, her husband found her trying to eat a frozen veggie burger. But what brought her to the sleep center was the episode where she found an open, half-eaten can of cat food and she was not sure if she had really fed it to her cat.

As of yet, there is not a lot of research on this disorder. Prevalence rates are estimated to be approximately 4% of young adults which is not an insignificant number. The prevalence rates are even higher among people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Typically, people are in their 20s or 30s when they present with this complaint, but the fact that Leslie was in her early 50s and just going through menopause was a clue that she might have an underlying sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, which often appears or becomes worse when women go through menopause because the loss of estrogen means the muscles in the throat are not as toned as they once were.

Accordingly, the diagnostic workup should include a thorough evaluation for another underlying eating or sleep disorder. An overnight sleep study is usually performed and the person is asked to keep a sleep diary for two to four weeks to document what he or she recalls and what evidence there is of their nocturnal eating.

This disorder should be distinguished from night-eating syndrome, which involves excessive eating between the evening meal and bedtime. This disorder is characterized by complete nocturnal awakenings and fully conscious eating in the middle of the night. No bizarre foods are consumed and the eating behavior/food preparation is not sloppier than usual. In this disorder, it is less likely that the patients have an underlying sleep disorder and more likely that they have longstanding issues with food and weight gain.

That brings us to some of the health consequences of sleep-related eating disorder and night-eating syndrome. People can gain a lot of weight and sometimes over a short period of time. They can develop type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol and it can be difficult to manage these disorders with the usual medications if people are consuming excessive, empty calories in the middle of the night. In sleep-related eating disorder, people can ingest toxic substances. They can also leave the stove on, thereby endangering themselves and their loved ones. Patients can have problems in their relationships because they are waking up their bed partners. Some patients even bring food back to bed, so even if it wouldn’t bother you if your spouse got up every night, few of us would want to wake up to find our spouse in the bed pulling apart a greasy chicken and throwing the carcass under the covers. Finally, patients are very psychologically disturbed by how out of control they feel.

There is not much research on what treatments might help these patients. Of course we treat the underlying eating or sleep disorder. If there is none or that approach does not resolves the symptoms, then we try medications such as topiramate or zonisamide, which are anti-convulsants. Other medications that have been given with some success are dopaminergic agents, benzodiazepines such as Clonazepam and opiates. With Leslie we lucked out; she did indeed have severe sleep apnea and when we treated it all her nocturnal eating stopped.

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.