Sleep more to cut down on junk food

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GETTING A full eight hours sleep is the holy grail for most people, but truthfully, how many of us actually reach that goal every night?

A combination of work and family commitments, box sets of TV series on Netflix, catching up with friends and in Spain, fiestas, all add up to make sleep deprivation a modern phenomenon.

But worse still, a new study which found sleep deprivation increased the brain’s sensitivity to food smells, making us far more likely to reach for unhealthy snacks and junk food.

The findings might explain why people who don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis tend to eat more and gain weight, researchers said.

For the study, which was shared at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco, researchers analysed adults who had operated on just four hours of sleep.

The participants were asked to inhale food odours such as those from crisps and cinnamon rolls while undergoing MRI scans.

They were then asked to do the same experiment, but using non-food smells like fir trees.
A few weeks later, the same participants repeated the experiment having had eight hours sleep the night before.

When tired, participants showed greater brain activity in two areas involved in olfaction (the sense of smell) in response to food smells. When they were rested, this activity diminished.
Additionally, the spike in activity wasn’t seen in response to non-food odours.

Researchers said the results highlight a role for modulation in sleep dependent appetite and eating behaviour.

So, the answer to losing weight is to get more sleep. Sounds so simple, but we live in the noisiest country in Europe with more fiestas than any other.

So unless we want to live like hermits, it looks like the midnight pizza and kebabs and 6am chocolate and churros are here to stay.

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