In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers have proved that lack of sleep is a contributing factor in weight gain.

Researcher at the Uppsala University in Sweden found that a specific brain region that contributes to a person’s appetite sensation is more activated in response to food images after one night of sleep loss than after one night of normal sleep.

In a prior study, lead study author Christian Benedict found that a single night of total sleep loss in young normal weight men curbed the energy expenditure the next morning. That study showed participants had higher sugar levels, which further confirms that lack of sleep possibly affect the way a person views food.

In this newer study, Benedict along with Samantha Brooks, and other colleagues from Uppsala University, focused in on the specific areas of the brain that are linked to appetite and powered by chronic sleep loss.

Researchers gathered 12 averaged sized males, and had them view various images of food, while studying their brains using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The researchers then examined the results after the subjects slept normally for one night, then again after the subject missed one night of sleep.

“After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat,”Benedict said in a statement. “Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run,”

It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight,” Benedict added.

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