In a recently published study, researchers aimed to examine the effects acute sleep deprivation has on food purchasing choices in a "mock supermarket."
The study consisted of 14 normal weight men who either experienced one night of total sleep deprivation or who attained a full night’s sleep and then went shopping for groceries the next morning with a budget of about 50 US dollars. They were told to buy as much as they could out of 40 possible items, which included 20 food sources that were high in calories and 20 food sources that were low in calories. The prices of the foods high in calories ranged from 75% to 125% of the reference price to determine whether sleep deprivation also has an effect on the amount a person is willing to spend on such an item. Furthermore, every participant received the same breakfast before buying groceries at the mock supermarket to prevent hunger as a confounding factor. Also, all participants had their ghrelin concentrations measured, a hunger stimulating peptide hormone, prior to eating breakfast.
It was found that men who were sleep deprived purchased more foods high in calories and more food in general than those who got a full night sleep. Fasting ghrelin concentrations were also higher in individuals who were sleep deprived, however, this increase was not associated to the effects sleep deprivation had on food purchasing choices among participants.
Chapman CD, et al. Acute sleep deprivation increases food purchasing in men. Obesity. 2013; DOI: 10.1002/oby.20579.