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REM sleep, with direct impact on the eating habits

The quality of sleep has far – sleeping-reaching effects on the health and according to a recent study, the eating behavior is influenced by the sleep-specifically the REM.

In a study of the effects of REM sleep or activity patterns in the brain on the behaviour of the research team of Professor Antoine Adamantidis University of Bern and the Inselspital Bern has determined that the activity of certain nerve cells during REM sleep regulates the eating habits – at least in mice. Published their study results in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”(PNAS).

Increased activity in the lateral Hypothalamus

In the stage of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, we dream intensely and a variety of brain areas and neural circuits are highly active. “The brain regions that are activated during REM sleep greatly, counting centres, for the regulation of memories and emotions in charge” and “also called the lateral Hypothalamus, a small, evolutionarily conserved structure in all mammals in between the brain, shows increased activity during REM sleep,” says the communication from the University of Bern.

REM sleep activation of the nerve cells

In the waking state are regulated by the nerve cells from this area of the Brain, appetite and food intake and play an important role in Motivation and addiction behavior, explain the researchers. In mice, they have studied, therefore, the activation of nerve cells in the Hypothalamus during REM sleep. They wanted to understand according to their own data better, such as the REM sleep activation of the nerve cells in the Hypothalamus affects daily behavior.

Certain activity patterns of the cells in the lateral Hypothalamus, the signal during the awake state, food intake, were also noted during REM sleep, according to the research team. With the help of the optogenetischen methods, in which the activity of nerve cells can be switched on and off using light pulses, specifically, they examined the influence of these patterns of activity during REM sleep.

Food intake decreased

To turn Off the signals that led to that in awake mice the eat activity pattern of the cells changed and the animals are less food, so the communication of the University of Bern. “This means that the REM sleep is needed to keep the food intake is stable,” emphasizes Prof. Adamantidis.

Long-Lasting Changes

“We were amazed at how strong and long lasting, our Intervention in the lateral Hypothalamus, the activity of the nerve cells and the behavior of the mice has affected,” added study first author Prof. Lukas Oesch. Even after four days of altering the activity had been the pattern observed. The observations suggest that the electrical activity in hypothalamic circuits can be changed and contribute to a stable eating habits, emphasize the researchers.

Quality of sleep and amount of Sleep is crucial

Also, the studies have pointed out that it is not the amount of Sleep is not the only decisive factor, but that it depends also on the quality of sleep. “This is particularly crucial in our society, where not only the duration of sleep decreases, but also the quality of sleep suffers greatly, for example in the case of shift work, artificial light or Social-jet-lag in adolescents,” says Adamantidis.

Hope for new therapeutic approaches

The researchers hope that the discovered relationship between the activity of the cells in the REM-sleep and the eating behavior could contribute to the development of new therapeutic approaches against eating disorders. Also for the Motivation and addictive behavior, the findings could be significant, according to the research team. “This, however, depends on the precise neural circuits, the phase of sleep and other factors, yet to be explored”, according to Prof. Adamantidis. (fp)

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