Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 5th 2016 Contents A26
body & soul
www.guardian.co.tt Guardian Saturday, March 5, 2016
There s lots of evidence that getting too little
sleep is associated with overeating and an increased
body weight. The question is, why?
Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on
sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of
sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.
Now, a new study finds evidence that sleep deprivation
(getting less than five hours of sleep per night) pro-
duces higher peaks of a lipid in our bloodstream
known as an endocannabinoid that may make eating
The prefix endo means inner, or within. And
cannabinoid looks like...you got it: cannabis. Our
bodies produce compounds that seem to act on the
same parts of the brain as marijuana does. We ve all
heard of the marijuana munchies, right?
The new study, based on blood samples, documents
a novel finding: The daily rhythm of a particular
endocannabinoid, known as 2-AG, is altered by a
lack of sleep. And these changes "could be driving
intake for more palatable foods," Erin Hanlon, a neu-
roscientist at the University of Chicago Medical
Center, said. She s an author of the new study, pub-
lished in the journal Sleep.
"We found that sleep restriction boosts a signal
that may increase the hedonic aspect of food intake,"
says Hanlon. In other words, being sleep deprived
may produce a stronger desire to eat.
To study how sleep influences appetite and eating,
Hanlon and her colleagues recruited 14 healthy, young
adults to take part in an experiment at the university s
sleep lab. "These were all people who were ... normal
sleepers," says Hanlon. They typically slept about
eight hours a night.
The study was divided into two parts, each lasting
four days. For one session, the participants were
allowed to follow a normal sleep schedule, about
eight-and-a-half hours per night. But during the
other session, they agreed to a crazy schedule. They
went to bed at 1 am and were woken up at 5.30 am,
so that they got a maximum of just 4.5 hours of sleep
per night. In both sessions, study participants were
offered buffet-style meals and plenty of snacks,
including candy and chips.
"They were given way more food than they could
ever eat," says Hanlon. It turned out that when par-
ticipants were sleep deprived, they ate about 400
more calories from snacks. That s "a lot more," Hanlon
fall 18 per cent in USA
Accidental pregnancies in the USA have fallen
by 18 per cent in recent years, mostly due to better
use of birth control, experts reported Wednesday.
A new study by the Guttmacher Institute finds
the rate of unintended pregnancies in the USA
dropped to the lowest level in 30 years between
2008 and 2011. "We suggest that the decline is
likely due to increases in the use of contraception,"
the Guttmacher Institute, which studies repro-
ductive health, said in a statement.
"Less than half (45 per cent) of pregnancies were
unintended in 2011, as compared with 51 per cent
in 2008," Guttmacher s Lawrence Finer and Mia
Zolna write in their report, published in the New
England Journal of Medicine. "There were declines
among women of all ages, incomes, and race and
ethnicity groups. So the declines were seen across
the board," Zolna told NBC News.
The United States has one of the highest rates
of unintended pregnancy in the developed world.
Before the latest findings, Guttmacher has said
that by age 45, more than half of all American
women will have had an unintended pregnancy,
and three in ten will have had an abortion. Zolna
and Finer found that 2.8 million of the 6.1 million
pregnancies in 2011 were unintended.
One reason the rate went down: women were
more likely to use the most effective methods of
birth control, known as long-acting reversible con-
traception. "Use of these methods, especially the
IUD, more than tripled between 2007 and 2012,
from 3.7 per cent of all contraceptive users to 11.6
per cent," Guttmacher s Joerg Dreweke wrote in a
policy analysis that accompanies the New England
Journal of Medicine report.
The team also found that 42 per cent of unin-
tended pregnancies in 2011 ended in abortion, little
changed from 40 per cent in 2008. But because
there were fewer accidental pregnancies, there
were fewer abortions. (NBC)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Sleep munchies: Why it's harder to resist snacks when tired
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