Lack of Sleep Impairs Decisions about Food

There have been two recent studies which consisted of scanning the brains of people who have been sleep deprived compared to people who have had enough sleep. The studies showed that people reacted differently when deciding on having healthy or unhealthy food depending on how much sleep they have had.

The results showed that the areas of their brain that were activated were those related to reward and those that were inhibited were the area’s that related to behaviour control. The results may explain the link between sleep deprivation and obesity.

Dr Marie-Pierre St-Onge led one of the studies said, “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.”

The study was conducted over five days on 25 men and women who were of normal weight. They were then allowed either 4 hours or up to 9 hours and were then shown images inside an fMRI scanner of healthy and unhealthy foods. Those who were sleep deprived and shown healthy images, the reward centres of the brain were not active compared to when they were shown images of unhealthy food and these same areas were very active.

Dr St-Onge carried on saying, “This may suggest greater propensity to succumb to unhealthy foods when one is sleep restricted.

“Indeed, food intake data from this same study showed participants ate more overall and consumed more fat after a period of sleep restriction compared to regular sleep.”

Stephanie Greener who conducted the work at the University of California said, “It seems to be about the regions higher up in the brain, specifically within the frontal lobe, failing to integrate all the different signals that help us normally make wise choices about the food we eat.”

This research does help explain other studies that have found a link between a lack of sleep and obesity by showing how the brain can’t make the right choices about food we should eat after being sleep deprived.

Maybe this is why many fast food restaurants, hopefully with the appropriate restaurant insurance are open till the early hours of the morning? Whether you are selling healthy or, perhaps not so healthy, food no matter what time of the day make sure you have the right insurance policy. This will mean your business can carry on as usual even in unforeseen circumstances.

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