According to a new study, people who are sleep-deprived may crave unhealthy foods such as sweets and chips more than those who receive an adequate amount of sleep. While the information is still preliminary, researchers came to this conclusion by examining the areas of the brain that were most active when people were looking at healthy or unhealthy foods. They found that the reward centers of the brain were activated when the participants of the study that were sleep-deprived saw pictures of unhealthy foods.
The findings from this study will be presented to the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting this year. According to a research associate at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, “We found regions associated with reward and motivation – those that are involved with addiction and pleasure-seeking behaviors – were more strongly activated in the short-sleep phase.”
A second smaller study came to a more detailed conclusion about the sleep and brain activity. These researchers found that sleep-deprived participants had less control over the frontal lobe of the brain. This area controls behavior and complex choices, possibly explaining why people struggle more to choose healthy food without sufficient sleep.
In the original study 25 men and women underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging after five nights of restricted sleep, and then again after five nights of sleeping nine or more hours. The subjects were showed pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods while they were scanned, as well as some nonfood items. Ultimately they found that unhealthy foods activated the reward centers of peoples’ brains more when they had restricted sleep.
Researchers say they were not surprised by the findings of study, “It makes sense that when you are fatigued, your body would want calorie-dense foods that give you quick energy. In an evolutionary sense, doing so would provide an advantage because you do get a momentary lift when you eat.”
One clear conclusion from the study is the importance of getting between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. Eating junk food will give sleep-deprived people a monetary life, but it will not last and eating to make up for sleep deprivation simply does not work.
DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com