Are your tired eyes causing you to crave sugar ?

tired eyes see things differentlyDo you find yourself a bit like a bear with a soar head, if you’ve been short changed on sleep ? I definitely do. If I don’t get my “beauty” sleep, I turn into a “beast”.

Your grumpiness is often a reflection of the fact that your couldn’t be bothered to act nice i.e. your self-control button has not been activated. Turns out, you need to flip that switch to do more than just act SWEET, you need it to avoid loading up on sweet goodies.

Researchers from Harvard found daytime sleepiness, leads to the sweet treat munchies.

The seat of self control

The prefrontal cortex is part of the brain that is involved in inhibitory processing, which in a nut shell is the part of the brain that makes sure you are acting like a normal civilized sane human being.

In some people, it has to work harder than others, but it is thanks to the activities of this area of the brain that you don’t actually slap your boss or pull a tongue. Okay, you still do it, but just in your head, you don’t actually do it, because it wouldn’t be “RIGHT” and you need the job !

The same area of your brain controls your urge to scoff down the dozen doughnuts in front of you.

Spying on the seat of self control

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a technique which allows researchers to see what you’re REALLY thinking.

Before being wired up, each participant in the study, completed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale questionnaire to assess how likely they were to nod off. The researchers then wired up their sleepy volunteers and waved photos of tantalizing morsels in front of them. They also showed them more neutral photos of geraniums and things, as well, to serve as a control.

The neuronal response to the selection of photos was recorded. The patterns of neuronal activity ensured that volunteers REAL response to each object was faithfully recorded.

Sleepiness definitely changed their thinking.

Self control goes AWOL

The self control button didn’t light up terribly well in the sleepy heads. “Normal” people tended to light up like Christmas trees when viewing pictures of delicious high calorie morsels. The increased activity, signals the brain putting the brakes on the desire evoked by these highly palatable foods.

Sleepy heads failed to light up the self control button.

How to keep your hands out the cookie jar

Resisting tantalizing munchies is never easy, but be warned, if you’re feeling sleepy – the internal self-control switch is not going to fire AT ALL. Okay, it might fire a little, but it might not fire enough to actually STOP you from eating that ice cream.

You can try a little external self-control, by pinching yourself or making pictures in your head, but probably the best way to keep out of the cookie jar is just get enough sleep !

PS. Even if you do feel tempted to use a bit of sugar as a pick-me up – DON’T, it WILL make you feel even more sleepy.

Abstract presented at the  25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS) -  American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind those cravings ?

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Further reading

sugar molecules as TV addicts fructose teasing insulin exercised brain swallowing glycogen
Don’t let your sugar molecules become couch potatoes A spoonful of fructose makes the fat cells full Feeding the brain in a roundabout way helps you think for longer

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

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