Science//

This Is Why You Can’t Resist French Fries When You’re Tired

There’s science behind your sleepy snack attacks.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Here’s a scene we can all relate to: After a lousy night’s sleep, you step out of the office midday to grab lunch. You fully intend to order a salad, but the scent of burgers and fries is in the air so you order that instead. This chain of events might have something to do with how a lack of sleep puts our sense of smell into overdrive — but only when food odors are wafting about, as Science of Us reports.

New research presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society suggests that when we’re sleep-deprived, our brains respond more strongly to food-related odors. Scientists ran an experiment where sleep-deprived adults inhaled both food and nonfood smells (like potato chips or fir trees) while getting MRI scans of their brains. The experiment was repeated a few weeks later after participants had a full night’s rest. Researchers found that the tired participants “showed greater brain activity in two areas involved in olfaction…in response to food smells than they did when well rested,” something that wasn’t evident for non-food odors, Science News writes. The takeaway: A heightened sense of smell might make it harder to walk away from delicious smelling treats.

This new finding adds to existing research suggesting our sleepy snacking has a scientific explanation, as Science of Us explains. A 2013 study found that sleep-deprived people were worse at resisting cravings for high-calorie foods than well-rested people and a study from last year found that the brains of tired study subjects contained a chemical similar to the one in cannabis known for making people munch.

This adds to a whole host of other reasons why you should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night: Your waistline — and brain — will thank you.

Read more on Science of Us.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Well-Being//

This Bad Habit Could Be Making You a Lot Lonelier

by Greater Good Science
Unplug & Recharge//

Why You’re Worse at Reading People When You’re Tired

by Shelby Lorman
Community//

Joining Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution

by Adam Hurwitz

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.