There are few things in life that are better than a good night's sleep.
In fact, according to a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, a restful night is so beneficial it may even make those mid-day and late-night junk food cravings disappear altogether.
"We found that employees who have a stressful workday tend to bring their negative feelings from the workplace to the dinner table," said the study's co-author Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang, of Michigan State University, in a news release. "However, another key finding showed how sleep helped people deal with their stressful eating after work. When workers slept better the night before, they tended to eat better when they experienced stress the next day."
The study, which looked at 235 workers in China, found the more stressed a worker was, the more junk food they would consume unless they had a good night's sleep before work.
"A good night's sleep can make workers replenished and feel vigorous again, which may make them better able to deal with stress at work the next day and less vulnerable to unhealthy eating," Chang said.
Chang's co-author Yihao Liu, from the University of Illinois, notes eating while stressed is a natural response used to relieve and regulate negative moods, but it is also a sign of diminished self-control.
"When feeling stressed out by work, individuals usually experience inadequacy in exerting effective control over their cognitions and behaviours to be aligned with personal goals and social norms," he said.
Though food-related perks are often appreciated by employees, Chang and Liu insist that employers need to tackle work-related stressors head on as they have a potential for long-term damage.