You’ve probably noticed that if you’re tired you get the munchies, and two new studies have explained why. First, a team at the University of Chicago found that insufficient sleep raises levels of a molecule called 2-AG in the body that stimulates appetite. On top of that, the second study found that when you’re sleep deprived parts of your brain that control food choices behave differently.
Activity in areas that help you make good decisions is blunted, while areas that give a feeling of reward from food ramp up their activity.
Defeat the damage: “Forewarned is forearmed,” says Kate Swann, psychologist and author of Do You Really Want to Lose Weight?. “Try and spot the eating patterns you fall into when you’re tired and beat them. If, for example, you know you reach for sugar at 3pm, have a healthy snack at 2.30pm instead. Also, address your reasoning. Yes, you’re tired and need a pick-me-up – but does it have to be food? Could you get a boost from a walk around the block instead?”