We talk at length about the connection between sleep and weight. It’s been established by numerous studies that as a society we sleep less and weigh more. Sleep and weight researchers knew that sleep deprived people ate more junk food as their judgment is impaired and cognitive and physical activity hindered. The instant energy from a candy bar is a panacea to keep you awake but that results in gaining weight and underperforming. Tomorrow you’ll go on a diet. But after another sleepless night your self-control is nowhere to be found.
Sleep is needed as much as air and food. When we sleep, our body regenerates, getting itself ready for another day.
But none of this is news. For decades now doctors recommended 7-9 hours a night for peak performance. The correlation between diminished cognitive ability, motor skills and sleep has always been evident and accepted. But despite in-depth studies by universities such as Harvard and Columbia, there was no technology to show why we gain weight when we skimp on sleep.
A recent study at the University of Berkeley in California was able to show the underlying causes. Columbia and St. Luke Universities used the MRI techniques. All this research points to clear and noticeable brain changes. An MRI brain scan showed decreased activity in in the frontal lobes. Images of pure healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, clean proteins and junk food were shown to the subjects. The ‘reward centers’ of the brain responded strongly to images of high calorie food. Sleep labs monitored the sleep hours or the subjects. The more sleep deprived subjects had the most severe cravings for unhealthy food. In some cases, all the subjects wanted was junk food. Energy expenditure was reduced and they were too tired to move. Increased activity in the amygdala, the cluster of cells in the temporal lobe, significantly reduced self-restraint and rational decision making.
Well, now we know it’s all in our brain.