A good night's sleep is important for so many reasons. For example, it gives us energy to face the day, helps us to solve problems and make decisions, and boosts the activity of the immune system. Now it seems that it also helps us to maintain a healthy weight.
A new study from the University of California Berkeley suggests that when we don't get enough sleep our desire for junk food increases.
The researchers scanned the brains of twenty-three young and healthy adults. The scientists compared scans obtained after the subjects had experienced a normal night's sleep and after they had experienced a sleepless night. There were distinct differences between the scans.
The frontal lobe of the brain is involved in making decisions. When the test subjects experienced a night with disturbed sleep, neural activity in this area was hindered. At the same time, activity in the deeper brain regions involved in the desire for rewards increased markedly. After awakening, the subjects chose to eat more calorie-laden junk foods than they did when they had a normal night's sleep. The researchers suggest that this may explain why people who lack sleep tend to be overweight.
One benefit of the study is that offers an additional strategy for weight loss in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Every method is valuable for someone who is trying to lose weight, as long as its safe!