The Daily Mail reports that scientists have discovered that sleep deprivation increases cravings for junk food:
- Sleep deprivation impairs activity in the brain’s frontal lobe
- The frontal lobe is the part of the brain responsible for complex decision making
- Lack of sleep increases activity in the centers that respond to rewards
- This means sleep deprived people are more likely to choose junk food
Here’s the skinny on the study…
According to the Daily Mail …
Sleep deprivation can increase cravings for junk food.
A sleepless night makes us more likely to reach for doughnuts or pizza than for whole grains and leafy green vegetables.
The study at the UC, Berkeley, examined the brain regions that control food and other choices.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers scanned the brains of healthy young adults, first after a normal night’s sleep and next, after a sleepless night.
- impaired activity in the sleep deprived brain’s frontal lobe, which governs complex decision making
- Increased activity in deeper brain centers that respond to rewards.
Specifically, the participants favored unhealthy snacks and junk food when they were sleep deprived.
‘What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified.’
‘This combination of altered brain activity and decision making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese.’
Previous studies have linked poor sleep to greater appetites, particularly for sweet and salty foods … the latest findings provide a specific brain mechanism explaining why food choices change for the worse following a sleepless night.
The findings indicate that ‘getting enough sleep is one factor that can help promote weight control by priming the brain mechanisms governing appropriate food choices’.
Ken’s POV: I think that this study may have even broader implications than the link between insomnia and obesity.
The finding that “high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep’ may explain a lot about decision-making … good and bad.”
Good night !