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Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - NEWS - Karissa Woolfe Healthy Food Guide Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian

Q I find that af­ter a bad night’s sleep, I al­ways want to reach for cho­co­late. What’s go­ing on? Nicki S, NSW

Glad to hear you’re tun­ing into your body and habits! As well as play­ing havoc with our hunger hor­mones, sleep de­pri­va­tion messes with our minds, trig­ger­ing us to reach for ‘re­ward’ foods such as cho­co­late, ex­plains Healthy Food Guide’s sleep expert, Dr Carmel Har­ring­ton.

“The re­ward cen­tre of your brain is on fire,” she says. “So you yearn for re­wards, and we’re not very good at con­trol­ling im­pulses when we’re sleep de­prived.”

Dr Har­ring­ton says the best way you can over­come this hur­dle is to ac­knowl­edge when you haven’t slept well, be aware of what your be­hav­iour is like when you’re sleep de­prived (e.g. reach­ing for cho­co­late) and pri­ori­tise good sleep (be­tween seven to nine hours). “It may take a few days to nor­malise, but the body is very good at do­ing that,” she says.

For tips on a good night’s sleep, visit sleep­health foun­da­tion.org.au

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