Here's a diet tip: Get more sleep. Researchers have discovered that sleepiness may make junk food more attractive, as the reward centers in the brain were activated when sleepy volunteers saw photos of unhealthy foods.
The study, to be presented Sunday at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (which exists?), also found that the behavior control and decision-making center of the brain was less responsive when subjects were sleepy.
"This is especially important if you're trying to lose weight," researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge said, since sleepy brains are less prone to self-control.
In fact, the study found that unhealthy food only activated the reward centers in subjects who went 24 hours without sleep; when the subjects slept a full night, the areas that release dopamine and similar happy feelings were not affected by junk food photos.
"I think it's related to cognitive control," St-Onge said. "Your guard is somewhat down when you're tired and sleep deprived. Even though you know you probably shouldn't eat certain foods, when you're tired you might just decide to go for it."