Could an Early Night Do More For You Than You Think? Food for Thought

When we’ve had sufficient sleep, we’re able to function at our best versions of ourselves, we can deliver performance at the peak of our ability.  When we’re sleep deprived, though, we feel a bit ‘rough’. Yet it’s become commonplace to not quite get the full night’s sleep.  We may believe that a full night’s sleep is just an unattainable ideal.  However here are just 3 things to watch out for if you don’t take care of this essential need.

1. We cannot evaluate our own appetite properly and our brains actually want to select high carbohydrate and junk type food and we may become obese.

In a just published study, there was a decrease in activity in the frontal cortex and insular cortex, which are responsible for complex decisions and appetite. Interestingly, following sleep deprivation, there was also a corresponding and equally significant increase in the part of the brain showing desire for high-calorie foods

2. Sleep Deprivation in our Teenagers adversely affects the teenagers’ dietary choices.

We want the best for our children and a long term study of 13,284 teenagers who’d reported sleeping for less than seven hours per night, found that 18 % of respondents  were more likely to consume fast food two or more times per week, and they were also less likely to make healthier choices of fruits and vegetables.  Children and teenagers develop habits at home before they get to college. So since we are a role model for them, maybe as parents, we need to take care of ourselves in order to show our kids how to take care of their essential needs.

3. Sleep Deprivation can make you Reckless

Researchers at Berkley UC and Harvard Medical School, found that the brains of participants who’d been sleep deprived, showed heightened activity in the mesolimbic pathway, which is a driven by dopamine, the neurotransmitter that’s responsible for regulating positive feelings, such as motivation, sex drive, addiction, cravings and decision making.  In other words, the pleasure circuitry got a big dopamine hit after a missed night’s sleep. So  the brain stimulates feelings of euphoria and reward after a sleepless night.

This indicated to the researchers that the sleep deprivation was causing the subjects to behave recklessly and the study made the point that this may be useful to know eg if you’re operating machinery or if you are a driver.  Also if you were being operated on by a tired doctor, potentially not able to properly assess risk.

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