Diet and exercise may not be the only ways to fight obesity. According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, getting an adequate amount of sleep each night may reduce the risk of excessive weight gain. While previous research has linked junk foods to sleep deprivation, this new analysis, published in the journal Nature and Communications, may reveal the source of the connection.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the Berkeley researchers scanned the brains of 23 adults, first after a normal night’s sleep and next after a sleepless night. They found that depriving people of sleep created changes in the ways their brains responded to high-calorie junk foods. Without proper sleep, high-fat foods like potato chips and sweets stimulated stronger responses in a part of the brain that helps govern the motivation to eat. At the same time, the subjects experienced a sharp reduction in activity in the part of the brain where rational decisions are made.
“These results shed light on how the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, leading to the selection of more unhealthy foods and, ultimately, higher rates of obesity,” said Stephanie Greer, a Berkeley doctoral student and co-author of the study, in a press release. “Getting enough sleep is one factor that can help promote weight control by priming the brain mechanisms governing appropriate food choices.”
Obesity can lead to heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It is essential to engage in a healthy lifestyle — including getting enough sleep — to prevent these illnesses. There are also financial benefits to staying fit as well, including qualifying for lower life insurance rates. To learn more about how you can obtain this financial protection at an affordable cost, visit LifeInsure.com and get a life insurance quote today.