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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Interesting. There’s so much to know, and I’m pretty certain I don’t even scratch the surface after all these years. 🙂 I do know this. Enough sleep or not, after I’ve satisfied a sweets craving, I need a nap. Thanks for always seeking to enlighten and educate us ma’am.
Oh yes J.D. that’s the sugar crash. It happens to all of us sometimes. Thank you for always reading and commenting. I appreciate you.
The human body never ceases to amaze me. I’ve totally experienced this on the rare occasion that I have one too many glasses of wine and can’t sleep. I also find that downing a bunch of water eases my cravings.
Here’s another interesting thing I’ve been noticing with sleep. I don’t seem to need as much on these long summer ways. We were way up north this weekend near the Canadian border and on a clear night, we could still see without our headlamps until 11 pm. Then the sun woke me up every morning at about 4:45. I was really stressed that I wasn’t able to get my 8 hours. But surprisingly, I wasn’t tired at all. This makes me think that my body might naturally need more sleep during the winter than summer.
Always fascinating posts, thanks Ann!
Yes water usually blunts my hunger as well Holly. What you shared about sleep is very interesting. I think our bodies naturally adapt to the changes in the seasons. And sunshine always makes me feel more energetic too! Very interesting stuff – but our bodies definitely are fascinating.
Ann, I do crave sweets more when I’m tired. I thought it was for the instant pick-me-up and the happy hormones carbs release. How interesting to know sleep deprivation affects our sense of smell.
I do too Debbie. It’s interesting to learn the reason behind it. Also how sleep affects the sense of smell. Our bodies truly are fearfully and wonderfully made!