Lack Of Sleep Could Be Giving You A Serious Case Of The Munchies


It turns out that not getting enough sleep can leave you with a chronic case of the munchies.

Research conducted at the University of Chicago found that lack of sleep can alter your brain’s chemical balance in a similar way to cannabis, reports Vice.

Published in the journal Sleep, researchers asked 14 men and women in their twenties to spend two four-day sessions in a clinical research centre.

On one of their visits, the participants had an average of seven and a half hours sleep, but only just over four hours on the other.

After the fourth night on each of their stays the participants were offered a range of treats, including less healthy options such as biscuits and crisps.

The researchers discovered that the sleep-deprived participants felt a strong urge to binge on the high-fat snacks even though they had eaten a large meal just 90 minutes earlier.

The researchers put this down to endocannabinoid 2-AG, a chemical that increases the pleasure experienced when eating food, especially during binges on high-fat snacks. They found that the brains of sleep-deprived participants had higher levels of endocannabinoids.

Head of the study Erin Hanlon explained:

We know that marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system and causes people to overeat when they are not hungry.

Sleep restriction may cause overeating by acting in the same manner.

According to Vice, researchers also found that the cravings of sleep-deprived participants were most intense in the late afternoon or evening.

Hanlon added:

If you have a Snickers bar and you’ve had enough sleep, you can control your natural response.

But if you’re sleep deprived, your hedonic drive for certain foods gets stronger and your ability to resist them may be impaired.

However, this study isn’t the first to link sleep loss to a higher risk of obesity. When you’re tired you are less motivated to make healthy food or take exercise.

So there you go – a bad night’s sleep could result in a bad case of the munchies come tomorrow morning.