Deprivation diet

I talk a lot about the importance of sleep. And this latest bit of research is a perfect example of why.

A new study shows that a single sleepless night could send you reaching for more junk food. And not just because lack of sleep stimulates hunger, as previous studies have shown.

Researchers scanned the brains of 23 healthy adults–once after a normal night’s sleep, and once after a night of sleep deprivation. They also asked subjects to look at 80 images of different foods and rate their desire for each. Afterward, subjects were able to choose one of the foods to have as a snack.

MRI results showed that lack of sleep interfered with subjects’ frontal lobe function–the part of your brain involved in complex decision-making–while activating reward-based centers deeper in the brain.

So it’s no surprise that sleepless nights also led more often to snack choices like pizza and doughnuts. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, inspired healthier choices like fruits and vegetables.

Simply put, lack of sleep short circuits your good judgment. And if you’re burning the midnight oil on a nightly basis?

Believe me, all those bad choices will eventually add up.

“The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain.” Nat Commun. 2013 Aug 6;4:2259.