Recent research showed that the activation of neurons in the hypothalamus during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep helps regulate eating behavior in mice.
Despite researchers having a good understanding of the regions of the brain that are activated during REM sleep, they have only recently discovered the relationship between REM and appetite. A large body of evidence suggests that REM is associated with sensory-motor development and learning, memory consolidation and dreaming. However, researchers haven’t been able to explain why such high electrical activity occurs in specific brain circuits, never mind how REM sleep relates to food intake and behavior.
This recent study has helped to clarify this relationship. The researchers from University of Bern, Switzerland, discovered that suppressing the activity of those neurons decreases the amount of food mice consume, suggesting that REM sleep is essential to stabilize food intake. They also discovered that even after four days of regular sleep after the hypothalamic brain activity was suppressed, the appetite decrease was still in force.
The results showed that sleep quality could play a major role in appropriate eating behavior. This could be particularly relevant in the modern world, where shift work, late-night screen exposure, jet-lag and various social situations can prominently decrease sleep quality.
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