Blame poor sleep for unhealthy pizza cravings

Washington: If you don't sleep well, you could well feel the pressing urge to gorge on junk food - thus doing much harm to your health, says new research that seeks to shed light on the link between poor sleep and obesity, says a new study. Researchers at UC Berkeley scanned the brains of 23 healthy young adults, first after a normal night's sleep and next, after a sleepless night by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

They found impaired activity in the sleep-deprived brain's frontal lobe, which governs complex decision-making, but increased activity in deeper brain centres that respond to rewards. Moreover, the participants favoured unhealthy, high-calorie foods and junk foods when they were sleep deprived.

Researchers measured brain activity as participants viewed a series of 80 food images that ranged from high-to low-calorie and healthy and unhealthy, and rated their desire for each of the items. As an incentive, they were given the food they most craved after the MRI scan. Food choices presented in the experiment ranged from fruits and vegetables to high-calorie burgers, pizza and doughnuts. The latter are examples of the more popular choices following a sleepless night. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Blue light can cause blues

Blue-coloured night lamps have the worst effect on one's moods while exposure to red light at night has significantly less evidence of depressive symptoms, says a new study. New research has shown how colours of night lamps could influence moods. In a study done on hamsters, researchers found that blue light had the worst effects on mood-related measures, followed closely by white. Hamsters exposed to red light at night had significantly less evidence of depressive symptoms and changes in the brain linked to depression, compared to those that experienced blue or white light.The only hamsters that fared better than those exposed to red light were those that had total darkness at night, reports Science Daily. The findings may have important implications for humans, particularly those whose work on night shifts makes them susceptible to mood disorders, said Randy Nelson, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the Ohio State University. "Use red light when appropriate for night-shift workers, it may not have some of the negative effects on their health that white light does," Nelson said. The study appears in The Journal of Neuroscience.

A test-tube meat burger

The world's first laboratory-grown beef burger was flipped out of a petri dish and into a frying pan recently, with food tasters declaring it tasted "close to meat". Grown in-vitro from cattle stem cells at a cost of 250,000 euros ($332,000), the burger was cooked and eaten in front of television cameras to gain the greatest media coverage for the culmination of a five-year science experiment.

Parental smoking influences kids

Children born to parents with a history of cigarette smoking are more likely to light up than kids of people who never smoked, says a new U.S. study. Despite falling smoking rates across age groups, researchers found that children raised by current or even former smokers were about three times more likely to be smokers themselves during their teenage years than kids raised by parents who never smoked.

Docs can treat alcoholism, PTSD together

Despite fears that exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would worsen alcoholism, a new study found that doctors can safely treat both conditions at the same time. Researchers found that people with PTSD and alcoholism benefited the most from the simultaneous treatments to reduce alcohol cravings and lessen distress.

Antioxidants may not boost a woman’s fertility

For women who struggle to conceive, there is little evidence that antioxidant supplements increase their chances, says a new study. Some women take the products, which include vitamins like C and E, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the hope they will help counteract disorders hampering fertility.

Messy desks aid creative thinking

Clean settings lead people to do good things, but working at a messy desk stimulates new ideas, says new studies. The new studies, were conducted at the University of Minnesota. Participants were asked to work at both messy and clean desks. Afterward, the participants were given an opportunity to donate, and were allowed a snack of chocolate or an apple. Being in a clean room encourage people to donate and to choose the apple. In another experiment, participants were asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls. Overall, participants in the messy room generated the same number of ideas for new uses as their clean-room counterparts. But their ideas were rated as more interesting and creative. The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Extroverted mothers may breastfeed longer

New mothers who are extrovert and less anxious are more likely to breastfeed for longer than those who are introvert or anxious, claims a new study. The study by Swansea University, UK, found extrovert mothers were emotionally stable more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding for longer while introvert and anxious mums were more likely to use formula milk or only breastfeed for a short while. They felt more self-conscious in front of others and were more likely to formula feed because other people wanted them to. The study is published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. — Agencies