The Hardest Time to Avoid Junk Food
We all have those moments of weakness when we throw caution to the wind and swap our lunch salad for a juicy steak sandwich. Though you may think that these indulgences are just cravings, it turns out that they may be triggered by lack of sleep.
In a presentation at Sleep 2012 in Boston, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, presented the results of their recent research studying how sleep deprivation affects eating habits. More than 20 healthy adults had MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) after a good night’s sleep and a night of sleep deprivation. The MRI scans observed that sleep deprivation impaired activity in the frontal lobe, which is the brain’s control center for complex decision making (aka what to eat).
According to the study, getting less sleep weakened the brain’s ability to make appropriate (read: healthy) food choices. Lack of shut-eye may make it harder for the brain to balance the nutrition of a certain food item with how tasty it is. So when you’ve skimped on sleep, the sugary flavors of a donut may trump your knowledge of the astronomical calorie counts. “These results shed light on how the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, leading to improper food choices,” said Stephanie Greer, head researcher, in a press release. We already know that there’s a link between obesity and sleep deprivation, so this study gives us a clue as to the possible cause.
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