Going through the day sleepy may cause us to choose junk food over nutritious snacking. Researchers at UC Berkeley conducted a study to reveal that a lack of sleep, leads to changes in the brain that make it harder for us to make good decisions– including giving into cravings.
The researchers used 23 healthy, young adults who agreed to have their brains looked at after a night of normal sleep and then again after a sleepless night. Brain activity was measured using an fMRI scan as the participants looked at 80 different pictures of food that ranged from high to low calorie, and healthy to junk food. Some of the pictures were of burgers, pizza, doughnuts, strawberries, apples and carrots. Participants were then asked to rate how much they wanted to eat each particular item of food. After the experiment, they were given the item they wanted the most.
Primal brain structures that control motivation and desire were amplified, while the high level regions in the brain for complex judgments and decisions were blunted by the lack of sleep. Sleepiness negatively affects the brain’s frontal lobe, the region in charge of decision-making processes and increases the activity in the area of the brain involved in reward pathways. High calorie foods are more appealing due to the brain’s altered state.
Sleep deprivation puts us at a higher risk for obesity, which can lead to a plethora of severe health risks. Dr. Kenneth P. Wright Jr., director of the sleep and chronobiology lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder, suggests that changes in our brains when we are sleepy, is linked to how much energy we need. Our brains want more energy from food even though that energy need has been fulfilled.
Remember, a healthy outside starts from the inside, and Gallery Furniture wants to see you healthy from the inside out! As Mattress Mack says, Sleep better, eat healthier, enjoy healthy food and eliminate junk food for a healthier, happier, more productive you! 🙂