If you stay up all night, junk food becomes like heroin to your sleep-deprived brain.
And — no surprise here — when you eat more cookies, donuts, candy, cheeseburgers, fries, chips, and all that, you gain weight…and start craving junk food even more.
It’s just one more negative side effect to add to the list of poor sleep! So if you often wonder how to stop craving junk food, better sleep is a great place to start.
The findings, which were published in Feb. 29 in the journal Sleep, showed that sleep-deprived subjects failed to resist junk food after eating a meal that covers 90% of the daily caloric needs.
The results came from two separate studies conducted at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University, and the University of California. The studies also used MRIs to measure brain function and pleasure centers after sleep deprivation.
“The pleasure-seeking parts of the brain were stimulated after an individual was sleep-deprived,” says lead researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D., a research associate at the university’s New York Obesity Research Center told CNN. “People went for foods like pepperoni pizza, cheeseburgers and cake.”
Researchers suspect tired people are drawn to high-calorie foods because their bodies and brains are seeking an extra energy boost to help them get through the day.
“We hypothesize that the restricted-sleep brain reacts to food stimuli as though it [were] food deprived,” St-Onge says.
Basically, if you sleep, you can control yourself. If you don’t sleep, the junk food cravings become worse and you become a sugar-and-fat addict.
Details about the study:
- Lack of sleep mostly affects the appetite during the late afternoon as well as early evening, including the period when the snack intake was connected to weight gain.
- Lack of sleep enhances a signal, which appears to increase the food intake’s hedonic aspect or the satisfaction earned from eating. According to a research associate at the University of Chicago Erin Hanlon, sleep loss seems to raise the endocannbinoid system or the similar system being aimed at by marijuana’s active ingredient in order to boost the appetite, Mens Fitness reported.
- The study was designed to study how the endocannabinoid system associated lack of sleep with weight gain. Using 14 healthy men and women aged 20, the participants were told to eat the same meals three times per day at the same specific time. The researchers were able to measure the hormone ghrelin levels that promotes appetite as well as leptin that marks the fullness in the blood, including the blood levels of endocannabinoids
- Following a period of lack of sleep, the participants experienced a notable increase in their level of hunger, even after the second meal. Also, the subjects reported a greater appetite, noting that they could eat more compared to when they expected the day following a complete night’s sleep.
- Lack of sleep dampened brain activity in areas involved in using information and making decisions. The reward centers were not activated more by sleep deprivation, as in the first study, but the ability to make good food choices was affected.