If you’re a big fan of an early night and a decadent lie in, the idea that getting more sleep could help you lose weight may sound too good to be true. But a fresh study from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University may have revealed precisely that.
In 2017, the university’s researchers investigated the effects of sleep deprivation on high calorific food consumption and their findings were striking. Although sleeping better won’t automatically make you lose weight, getting more effective shut eye could help you resist highly calorific foods.
The subjects involved in the research were asked to sleep for eight hours per night for a week, then reset with a normal week of sleep, then complete a week with just four hours of sleep each night. Their responses to the smell and sight of calorie-crammed food and drink, including crisps, doughnuts and pizza, as well as their responses to healthy food such as apples and carrots were measured throughout the process.
Imaging of the subjects’ brains revealed that participants who were sleep deprived had very enhanced responses to highly calorific, unhealthy foods, making them much more likely to indulge in unhealthy eating when operating on low levels of sleep.
Why do sleepy people eat poorly?
The rationale behind this phenomenon is actually quite simple. Our brains require lots of energy to perform at their peak. When we don’t receive the rest we need, our brains function below their usual level, especially when it comes to decision-making.
Instead, we’re more likely to go onto “automatic pilot” allowing our rewards centres (which display greater activity during times of sleep deprivation) to have more of a say. This is the part of the brain which seeks stimulation and instant gratification – itches which sugary and fatty snacks scratch only too effectively.
Ready to cut unhealthy food out of your diet and lose weight through better nutrition? It may be time to start getting more shut eye…
Do you find yourself craving naughty foods when you haven’t had enough sleep? Share your experiences with other readers below.