CREDIT: Tired woman photo via Shutterstock
Over the years, I've spent a lot of time on the road. Aside from being away from my family, sleep is one of my biggest challenges. Unless I'm completely exhausted, I find it difficult to fall asleep in a bed that isn't my own. So, I have some experience with trudging through a day on just a few hours of sleep. I find it harder to focus, easier to become agitated, and more challenging to make healthy choices.
According to a recent study, I'm not alone. Well, at least not on the last part.
A study presented in June at a sleep research Boston showed that the reward centers of the brain were activated when sleep-deprived participants looked at pictures of junk foods. According to these results, we're naturally programmed to eat junk food when we're tired.
At a first glance, you might be wondering why your body is trying to sabotage your healthy efforts, but it kind of does make sense. In order to get through the day without enough sleep, the body craves calorie-dense foods for a quick burst of energy.
It's not a bad system as long as your calorie-dense foods are also nutrient dense — that's where "junk" food falls short.
There are two ways to ensure you don't fall into this trap. First, do your best to get a good night's rest. Second, carry healthy snacks with you at all times.
Here are a few tips for getting better sleep:
Of course, even with the best efforts, sometimes you just won't get as much sleep as you should. Life happens. That's why it's a good idea to be prepared with healthy snacks, so you are less likely to make poor choices.
Here are some healthy snack ideas:
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!