A simple BBQ survival strategy

If you’re getting together with friends and family tomorrow to celebrate the 4th of July, chances are you’re going to come face-to-face with some familiar temptations. Bags of chips…trays of cookies…and, my personal kryptonite–ice cream. Somehow, they always find their way onto the picnic table.

But there’s one simple thing you can do tonight to make it at least a little easier on yourself–and your willpower–tomorrow.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Turns out, people who are sleep-deprived have more trouble saying “no” to tempting foods.

That’s the finding from a new study, presented at the annual SLEEP meeting hosted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

Researchers performed MRIs on 25 men and women while they looked at images of healthy and unhealthy foods.

Prior to the MRIs, volunteers were assigned to various sleep groups. For five nights, half the group got only four hours sleep per night. The others were allowed to sleep up to nine hours.

The sight of unhealthy food activated the brain’s reward centers in the sleep-deprived group. But it wasn’t just their brains that responded. In fact, the sleep-deprived group ate more food during the study too. The other group didn’t have that response.

I can’t think of an easier solution to controlling those urges–and losing more weight. So do yourself a favor, and head to bed early tonight!

“Brain scans show specific neuronal response to junk food when sleep-restricted,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 6/10/12