The surprising connection between sleep and junk food

Bad news for you night owls: Even one night of sleep deprivation is linked to craving high-calorie foods, overeating, and subsequent weight gain. As reported by The New York Times, a new study shows that after experiencing a night of inadequate sleep, subjects experienced a stronger response to junk food in the part of the brain that helps govern the motivation to eat. At the same time, there was a reduction of activity in the part of the brain that helps us make rational decisions. The result? Even one crappy six-hour-snooze night can mean that we'll end up giving in to the siren song of low-quality, high-calorie foods - a bad habit that, over time, can lead to weight gain.

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Previous theories about increased calorie intake hypothesized that eating more when tired was a result of the body trying to make up the energy it had lost. But Matthew P. Walker, author of this new study, argues that the change in food intake is caused by the sleep deprivation itself, not by true hunger or a need for calories. According to Walker, when we miss out on sleep, the metabolic byproduct adenosine builds up in our systems, which can wreak havoc on our brain function. So, shut off that phone and hit the hay early tonight- your brain (and your waistline) will thank you. (The New York Times)

More from Refinery29:
Oh, great: One more reason why sleep deprivation will be the end of us
Sleep: You're doing it wrong
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