It’s been shown over and over again that when you keep people up for extended periods of time, they start eating between 300 to 550 extra calories per day due to short sleepers craving energy-dense food. What’s driving that increased appetite? It’s the same feeding pathway that causes people to eat when they aren’t hungry after taking in marijuana. “Endocannabinoid” peaks are higher with less sleep. The endocannabinoid system helps regulate appetite. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the cannabinoids in marijuana and the endocannabinoids our bodies bind to the same receptors in the brain, fat cells, muscles, and elsewhere. Despite saying that they felt full, the short-sleepers have a stronger desire to eat, and they eat more when they eat a meal or snacks.

Other studies find an increase in impulsive behavior after short sleep. So our brain’s reward system is saying ‘Eat that Snickers’ more than usual, and we’re less able to inhibit our response to it….And it’s more likely to be Snickers than broccoli. In most studies, people who get less sleep “have an increased appetite for high-carb and high-fat foods.”

Reprinted with permission by, Center for Science and Public Interest.

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