Study: Why Being Sleep Deprived Makes You Crave Junk Food

The New York Times has the scoop on a new study, which took a closer look at the connection between sleep loss and weight gain. Specifically, it uncovered what actually goes on in your brain when you’re bleary-eyed while making food choices. The results? That being sleep deprived makes you crave junk food more than when you have a good night’s sleep.

Here’s why: In the study, compared to when they had a full night of rest, subjects who stayed awake all night showed a greater brain response (i.e. “I want, I want, I need, I need”) to images of high-fat, high-calorie foods and less brain activity in the decision-making part of the brain that weighs consequences and outcomes. Which is means when they saw pictures of junk food, they reeeeally wanted it, calories and belt notches be damned.

Now for the kicker:

The research showed that when the subjects were bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, they strongly preferred the food choices that were highest in calories, like desserts, chocolate and potato chips. The sleepier they felt, the more they wanted the calorie-rich foods. In fact, the foods they requested when they were sleep deprived added up to about 600 calories more than the foods that they wanted when they were well rested.

Read more about the study here.