If you have found yourself craving sweets and processed foods after a bad night’s sleep, this research explains why that seems to happen and almost be beyond your ability to control. Your sense of smell is heightened after a bad night’s rest, so that sweet treat might smell extra tempting. Additionally, the connection between areas of the brain that dictate food choices appears to break down. With enough sleep, the part of your brain that perceives smells, the piriform cortex, is able to clearly dialogue with the insular cortex, which helps regulate food intake by keeping track of things like how much food is already in your stomach.
According to this study, that neural communication gets muddled with lack of sleep, which throws off our endocannabinoid system, which regulates most physiological processes. Researchers believe that an increase in a specific endocannabinoid, the 2-OG compound, causes cravings for smell-good treats when we’re sleep-deprived.
So what can you do when you get a less than restful night’s sleep? Be mindful about smells, and see if it helps you make healthier food choices. Perhaps try to avoid walking by your local bakery or detour around the pastry department of the supermarket. It’s also a good idea to provide yourself with healthy snacks that are also high in calories like nuts and seeds that might just smell extra good to your sleepy brain. There is an entire chapter on sleep and rest in Today is Still the Day because it is so important to successful weight loss and management.
Have you noticed that you seem to crave sweet treats more when you are sleep-deprived?
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