Lack of sleep ''can lead to unhealthy eating''
People are more likely to opt for unhealthy food after they have endured a poor night's sleep, new research has indicated.
Two studies presented at this week's Sleep 2012 conference in Boston showed that sleep deprivation can impair the parts of the human brain responsible for food choices.
One of the studies, led by Columbia University in New York, found that unhealthy foods triggered a greater response in the brain's reward centres among people who had restricted sleep.
"The results suggest that, under restricted sleep, individuals will find unhealthy foods highly salient and rewarding, which may lead to greater consumption of those foods," said the university's Dr Marie-Pierre St-Onge.
Researchers believe such findings may help to explain the connection between sleep deprivation and obesity.
In the second study, led by Stephanie Greer at the University of California, people were asked to rate their interest in 80 food items following both a night of normal sleep and a night of sleep deprivation.
The results suggested that a lack of sleep impaired activity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is important for controlling behaviour and making decisions.
Posted by Elizabeth Mewes