If you are feeling a little sleep deprived in the morning you might be tempted to reach for a cup of coffee and pastry for a quick burst of energy.
But according to scientists, lack of sleep is leading to an exploding obesity epidemic in Britain.
Just one night of bad sleep can result in weight gain because it makes people crave sugary and fatty foods.
Miguel Toribio-Mateas, chairman of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy, said: 'Sleep deprivation enhances neuronal activity in certain areas of the brain linked to our innate reward system.
'Lack of sleep also seems to have an effect on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity which determines how well out body is able to metabolise energy from foods containing carbohydrates.
'This is significant as impaired insulin sensitivity has been related to food cravings for more sugary foods.'
According to the research, the British are leading the way in terms of
snacking, followed by Italy, Germany and Spain with the French snacking the least.
The British consume 1.57 unhealthy snacks a day as opposed to the
French at 1.43.
The study was commissioned by nutrition company, Herbalife, which found that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day and should contain a good source of quality protein like poached eggs and bacon
While you sleep the body's metabolism slows.
But when you eat the right food at breakfast, it kick-starts your metabolism, providing you with a steady stream of energy to keep you going through the day.
If you do not eat the right breakfast, your metabolism stays at a slower rate and doesn't get the kick-start it needs to give you energy, researchers say.
Unhealthy snacks are often high in sugar, high in fat and lack adequate protein.
They cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then dramatically drop, meaning your appetite won’t be satisfied for longer than about an hour.
Mr Toribio-Mateas said breakfasts should contain a source of protein like meat or eggs which will stop people feeling a mid-morning slump which leads to snacking.
He said: 'Breakfast for weary office workers should contain a source of
good quality protein.
'For those people who don’t have time to prepare a cooked breakfast,
protein shakes are a viable way to introduce good quality protein early in the day.
'Soy in particular has been found to speed up the body’s ability to burn
calories, balancing blood sugar as well as providing a healthy snack which
makes you feel fuller for longer.'