Dozing Into Donuts

Sleepiness can lead to poor nutrition

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It's mid-afternoon and you're tired. You didn't rest well last night. Maybe a bite to eat will help rally you. Hmm - those chocolate chip cookies look good. Ever wonder why?

When it comes to deciding on foods, sleepiness may just be affecting your better judgment.

Researchers suggest that when you're sleepy during the day you have less brain activity and tend to make poor food choices. The more tired you are during the day, the more appealing high-calorie foods become. No wonder those chocolate chip cookies look so good!

"Daytime sleepiness can cause unhealthy eating."

William Killgore, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and colleagues found that greater daytime sleepiness causes decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that blocks bad ideas.

The study was conducted on 12 healthy men and women between the ages of 19 and 45. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure activity in the brain while participants were looking at images of different foods.

Killgore and his team knew from previous studies that the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex is usually high when looking at images of high-calorie foods. Their current research shows that lack of sleep caused less activity in the same area when participants looked at high-calorie foods.

Killgore says that it's important for us to know all factors involved in obesity since it's become an epidemic. Sleep is one important factor.

So get more sleep, wake up and smell the coffee. Better quality sleep will help you make better quality food choices.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 14, 2011
Last Updated:
June 15, 2011