People More Likely to Eat Unhealthy Foods When They’re Sleepy, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New research suggests that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to indulge in unhealthy foods, Health Day reports.

Researchers found that the reward centers of the brain, which are involved with addiction and pleasure-seeking behaviors, were strongly activated when sleep-deprived study participants saw pictures of unhealthy foods. The study involved 25 men and women who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging after five nights of four hours of sleep, followed by five nights of nine hours of sleep. They were shown pictures of healthy foods, unhealthy foods and nonfood items while in the scanner. Researchers found that the unhealthy foods activated the reward centers of the brain only in people who did not get enough sleep. After resting a full night, the reward center of the brain was not activated when they looked at the unhealthy foods.

The study was scheduled to be presented at the Association Professional Sleep Societies' yearly meeting in Boston on Sunday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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