Sleep Deprivation Causes Junk Food Binges ... Plus It Will Kill You

donutsIf your first thought upon seeing this glorious photo was Mmmm, donuts! I could eat that whole box! DONUTS! (I know mine was), then you, like me, are probably really, really tired. We've known about the link between sleep deprivation and obesity for a while, but now we know more about why one leads to the other: Junk food is actually more appealing to weary brains. Like, scientifically.

A recent study scanned the brains of people in two groups -- the first after five nights of sleep for nine hours and the second after five nights of sleep for four hours -- while showing them images of healthy and unhealthy foods. And guess what? The pictures of junk food only activated the brain's "reward centers" in sleep-deprived people. (Which is basically what happened when that donut craving hit you like a freight train a minute ago.)

Explains a lot, doesn't it? And that's not the only way lack of sleep can apparently screw with your body ...


Chronic exhaustion can ALSO:

1. Increase your risk of having a stroke ... big time. A recent (scary!) study found that people who got less than six hours of zzz's per night were four times as likely to have a stroke -- four times! Even in people who weren't overweight!

2. Lead to bad decisions. Still more research found that lack of sleep actually impairs the area of your brain responsible for behavior modification and making good choices.

3. Make you drunker, faster. Yup, sleep deprivation magnifies alcohol's intoxicating effects. Plus, sleep deprivation can mess with your cognitive abilities to the point where you're acting drunk even when you're not.

And who knows what else?! Next week we'll probably hear about how not getting enough sleep turns people into zombies. Hmmm ...

Do you get less than six hours of sleep every night?


Image via donuts head/Flickr

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