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Sleep deprivation and food cravings

Research has discovered that a lack of sleep has a negative affect on the region of the brain in charge of decision-making. This may not come as a surprise but the novel aspect of this research is that the changes that occur in the brain may also be responsible for the poor food choices we make when we are tired, make us more susceptible to giving in to certain food cravings and eat more when we are exhausted.

I know when I’m tired I’m far more likely to want chocolate, and I’m very certain I’m not alone. Being sleepy makes you far more prone to munching on junk food rather than snacking on nutritious vegetables. High-calorie foods are more appealing because of the brain’s altered state. You may want to try avoiding going for the food shop when you are tired to help make healthier food choices or set up an online food order. Shopping on an empty stomach, or when you are tired, makes people more likely to buy high-calorie foods.

If all the will in the world can’t help you reaching for the biscuit tin when your eyelids are falling shut, try taking a 20 minute nap. You won’t fall asleep in this time, however a short afternoon catnap of 20 minutes yields mostly Stage 2 sleep, which enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood, and sharpens motor skills. To boost alertness on waking, you can drink a cup of coffee before you nap. Caffeine requires 20 or 30 minutes to take effect, so it will kick in just as you’re waking. Naps of up to 45 minutes may also include rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which enhances creative thinking and boosts sensory processing.

Click here to find out which foods may help to boost sleep.