We all know that not getting a good night’s rest can be bad for our health, but did you know that it could be making you hungry?
The Guardian reports that too little sleep might actually bring on a form of “munchies” similar to those experienced from marijuana use.
Researchers in the U.S. found that sleep deprived people crave crisps, sweets and biscuits more than healthier foods.
They believe that lack of sleep alters chemicals in the brain, in the same way that the ingredients in cannabis do.
Participants in the study endured several nights of poor sleep and reached for higher calorie snacks with nearly twice as much fat, than foods favoured after sleeping well for the same time.
Erin Hanlon led the study from the University of Chicago and says sleep deprived participants had trouble resisting snacks, even when they were full.
The Guardian reports that previous research has show that sleep loss raises the risk of obesity, but the reasons for this have been unclear. Some factors include that a lack of sleep disrupts hormones that control appetite and satiety, those who sleep less have more time to eat and may be too tired to exercise.
Hanlon conducted a small study published in journal Sleep, which involved 14 healthy men and women in their twenties. They spent two four-day sessions at the university, with the control group sleeping an average of 7.5 hours of sleep a night and the other only 4 hours and 11 minutes.
After the fourth night each participant was offered a range of snacks and those that were sleep deprived felt the urge to binge on fatty foods.
Hanlon examined levels of chemicals called edocannabinoids in the participants blood to identify why they were more drawn to fatty foods. She found that participants who were sleep deprived had higher levels of endocannabinoid 2-AG, which is a chemical that increases the pleasure felt when eating.
“We know that marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system and causes people to overeat when they are not hungry, and they normally eat yummy sweet and fatty foods,” Hanlon said. “Sleep restriction may cause overeating by acting in the same manner.”