13:34 08 August 2013
Based on a US study, sleep deprivation makes people more likely to crave junk food such as pizza or doughnuts instead of healthy food like leafy green vegetables or whole grains.
Researchers examined the brains of 23 young adults once after they got a great night sleep and once following a sleepless night.
Researchers report that they’ve observed impaired activity in the sleep deprived brain’s frontal lobe which governs complex decision, making but increased activity in the deeper brain centre that respond to rewards.
The researchers also found that following sleepless night, participants favoured junk foods.
“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,” said Professor Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience.
“High calorie foods also became significantly more desirable when participants were sleep-deprived.
“This combination of altered brain activity and decision making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese.”