Unhealthy Food More Appealing When Tired.

According to a new study, unhealthy foods like pizza, candy and soda are even more appealing to our brains when we’re tired.

Conducted by Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition, the study looked at brain activity in well-rested and then sleep-deprived individuals. When shown unhealthy food options, tired participants experienced increased activity in the brain’s reward centers.

A separate study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley concluded that sleep-deprivation leads to impaired activity in an area in the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the area of the brain that helps control behavior and process complex choices. When experiencing sleep deprivation, this area didn’t respond well – thereby making it easier for tired individuals to choose unhealthy foods.

The results aren’t surprising for two reasons. First, when we’re tired, we let our guard down. We’re not as vigilant in making decisions – and it’s easier to just “go for it.” Second, there’s probably an evolutionary advantage at play. When we’re tired, unhealthy (but calorie-dense) foods like soda and candy can give you a quick burst of energy and momentarily lift fatigue. Back when we lived in caves and fought for our survival, this could have been an evolutionary advantage.

The next time you’re tired and craving something unhealthy, remember this study and know what’s really happening. Grab a handful of unsalted nuts or slice up an apple… and then call it a night. Do your body a real favor and get some rest.

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  1. I must be constantly tired then!
    A mouthful of you should surely compensate? 😉

  2. charley says:

    And when under stress.

  3. I can see the reasoning behind this. I think the bigger issue is if you’re tired and not eating in awhile you probably less motivated to make something healthy

  4. christopher says:

    suggestion of peanuts or fresh froit is a good idea.when youre tired you may tend to do a quik fix for food.anybody should understand that.

  5. Well, I’m going out for a slice of pizza anyway.

  6. This is 100% what my issue is. I don’t sleep well (sleep apnea) to begin with and it’s even worse when I get home! That’s when I go crazy with any food I can get my hands on. The best way I’ve found to combat this is to make meals in advance, go to the gym right after work for an energy boost and good self esteem burst, and then have a protein shake when I get home. It’s helped a lot with the uninhibited binge I do on the nights I don’t work out! Hope this helps someone else!