There's a scientific link between being tired and craving junk food
As any of us who have pulled all-nighters, get up at the crack of dawn or are just bad sleepers know all too well, when you’re tired junk food starts to look pretty damn tasty.
This isn’t just your mind playing tricks on you, because now scientists have proved that your brain actually wants you to eat more when you’re sleep-deprived.
Researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago have found that your brain is more sensitive to food smells when you haven’t had enough sleep, often causing you to eat everything in sight.
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Working off previous research that shows the strong relationship between sleep deprivation and weight gain, scientists set out to see if there was any cognitive proof behind eating more when you’re tired.
In the first part of the test, volunteers were only allowed four hours of sleep. The next day they smelled all kinds of odours from potato chips, cinnamon rolls to fir trees, and their brain activity was monitored through MRI scans.
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Weeks later, the same group of volunteers were allowed a full eight hours’ sleep, and the next day they smelled all of the same odours.
This time round, scientists found that the participants didn’t experience the same spike in brain activity when they smelled food as when they were sleep-deprived. This suggests that your brain responds more to food smells when you’re tired, which is what probably leads to the inevitable face-stuffing.
So, if you’re finding it hard to resist polishing off that packet of digestives by mid-afternoon, you could do no worse than heading to bed a little bit earlier tonight.