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You’ve probably heard that sleep loss can impact your health in a number of negative ways, like your sending your hunger hormones out of whack and impacting fat loss. According to a new paper from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, published in the journal eLife, found that not getting enough quality sleep might cause more activity in the area of the brain that makes you want to eat sweets. The researchers at the University’s International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (IIIS) discovered that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep loss can lead to increased consumption of sugary foods.
The rodent study induced REM sleep and then used a chemical-genetic technique to block the neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, which helps the brain judge the palatability of foods.
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The results of the experiment showed that loss of REM sleep led to an increase in medial prefrontal cortex activity when exposed to high-calorie foods. The results also suggest that the medial prefrontal cortex has a direct influence on our desire to eat sugary foods, especially when lacking sleep. Remember that it’s not only about logging 7 to 9 hours in bed each night, but you should aim for quality sleep–like REM–which has restorative properties for the brain and body.