If you need another reason to get good sleep, here it is.
If there was ever a study not to lose sleep over, it’s this one. People deprived of a good night’s rest are more likely to experience changes in brain activity that can increase the urge to eat high-calorie foods.
Matthew Walker at the University of California in Berkeley and colleagues conducted the first study of brain activity in relation to food among sleep-deprived people. The team used fMRI to study brain patterns in 23 people, first after a night of peaceful sleep and then after a night without sleep.
Sleep deprivation reduced activity in three areas of the brain that help, among other things, to process odour and flavour signals. It also led to more activity in the amygdala, which helps govern the motivation to eat. The team also found that volunteers rated pictures of high-calorie foods as more desirable after no sleep than after a good rest.
It may make evolutionary sense, says Laurent Brondel at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. The long summer days at higher latitudes deprive animals of sleep, but they use their time awake to eat more, which helps them get through the short days of winter when food is scarcer.