Try sleeping well to decrease your desire for sugary and fatty foods

Harold Mandel's picture
Sleep

Researchers have discovered a direct link exists between loss of REM sleep and the desire for sugary and fatty foods and so therefore sleeping well may decrease this desire for unhealthy food.

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Getting adequate sleep is clearly very important for good health in body and mind. A lack of good sleep has been associated with many illnesses and a negative subjective feeling of well being.

There is a direct link between the loss of REM sleep and a desire for sugary and fatty foods

The University of Tsukuba reports there is a direct link between the loss of REM sleep and a desire for sugary and fatty foods. Although the exact role which sleep plays in affecting the areas of the brain which have a control over the desire to eat unhealthy foods is not clear this association nevertheless has been found to exist.

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Researchers have observed that the loss of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep leads to increased consumption of foods which are not healthy. In particular increased consumption of sucrose and fat has been noted when there is not enough REM sleep. Researchers at the University of Tsukuba’s International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine studied this phenomenon on mice.

In mammals REM sleep is a unique phase which is closely associated with dreaming. There is rapid eye movement during this phase of sleep and the body is just about completely paralyzed. The prefrontal cortex of the brain plays a role in determining the palatability of foods via taste, texture and smell.

The medial prefrontal cortex may play a direct role in influencing our desire to eat foods which promote weight gain

People who are obese have been found to have increased activity in the prefrontal cortex when they are exposed to foods which are high in calories. Kristopher McEown, who was the lead author of this study, says the results have suggested that the medial prefrontal cortex may play a direct role in influencing our desire to eat foods which promote weight gain and which are high in sucrose content, when we do not get enough sleep.

This study has been published in eLife. There is an association between loss of REM sleep and increased consumption of foods which promote gaining weight. There appears to be a causal link between REM sleep, prefrontal cortex brain functioning, and consumption of highly palatable foods. It is therefore logical to assume that sleeping well may decrease the desire for unhealthy foods which are high in sugar and fats.

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