Exercise Can Increase Levels Of Hunger-Promoting Endocannabinoids


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Scientists from Uppsala University have discovered affection of hunger-promoting endocannabinoid levels. It targets the same receptors as cannabis which are affected by short sleep duration. According to scientists, acute exercise can modulate this effect.

Chronic lack of sleep can cause increased risk of overweight and obesity. Previous studies suggest that healthy participants who are sleep deprived eat more. They also make unfavorable food choices and crave more high-calorie foods. Those studies showed some alterations in the levels of some hunger hormones after sleep loss. Now, scientists from Uppsala University have demonstrated that how hunger-promoting endocannabinoids are affected by short sleep duration.

We all know the benefits of exercise. For example, It boosts our stamina. Additionally, it modulates the effects of sleep loss on various hormonal pathways is currently unknown.

Scientists invited healthy normal-weight participants to a sleep laboratory on two separate occasions. They studied them after three consecutive nights of normal sleep, and after three nights of only sleeping four hours each night. When participants were in the lab, their meals and activity patterns are standardized. The blood was drawn repeatedly to assess endocannabinoid levels in the blood.

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Scientists found that the levels of 2-arachidonoylglycerol were about 80 percent higher after the nights of short sleep compared with after the normal sleep session. When the participants exercised, the levels of 2AG still went up almost by half.

Associate professor Christian Benedict said, “As previously shown by us and others, sleep loss increased subjective hunger compared with the well-rested state. Given the role of endocannabinoids in promoting hunger and hedonic eating could offer an explanation as to why. Meanwhile, we instead saw lower stress ratings after exercise in the sleep deprivation condition. It could also possibly be ascribed to the observed endocannabinoid levels following our exercise intervention.”

Jonathan Cedernaes said, “When sleep-deprived, the participants saw the same amount of increase in endocannabinoid levels following the acute exercise. Endocannabinoids confer both the “runner’s high” as well as at least some of the neuroprotective effects of exercise. Therefore, this may suggest that even under conditions of chronic sleep loss, exercise may exert similar centrally active, and possibly neuroprotective, properties as under conditions of sufficient sleep. This is an important area for future research as we and others have found that short sleep duration by itself may be harmful to the brain, and in the long run, increase the risk of e.g. Alzheimer’s disease.”

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