Was Cookie Monster Sleep Deprived?

For anyone who’s trying to diet – here is a great piece of advice. Stay away from late nights and from lack of sleep. A team at Columbia University has found that the brain’s reward center will light up more often when people are sleep deprived.

The researchers found that, not only are people more likely to make poor choices when they are sleep deprived, but they are more likely to get pleasure from those choices.

As lead researcher Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge explained, The same brain regions activated when unhealthy foods were presented were not involved when we presented healthy foods. The unhealthy food response was a neuronal pattern specific to restricted sleep. This may suggest greater propensity to succumb to unhealthy foods when one is sleep restricted.”

The researchers came to their conclusions after looking MRIs of 25 men and women of normal weight who were shown images of healthy foods and unhealthy foods over five nights. Some of the nights they were allowed to sleep for up to nine hours, while on other nights they were given only four hours of sleep.

As Dr. St-Onge explained, “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. Indeed, food intake data from this same study showed that participants ate more overall and consumed more fat after a period of sleep restriction compared to regular sleep. The brain imaging data provided the neurocognitive basis for those results.”

So, if you’re on a strict diet – do yourself a favor and make sure that you get enough sleep to avoid those temptations!