A lack of sleep can give you the same kind of munchies you experience after smoking weed, according to a new study.
The research, conducted at the University of Chicago, found that sleep-deprived participants were more likely to reach for unhealthy snacks because a lack of shut-eye altered brain chemistry in much the same way as the inducing ingredient that causes the munchies in marijuana.
The small study, which was published in the journal Sleep, found that 14 young and healthy volunteers were unable to resist what researchers called “highly palatable, rewarding snacks” such as cookies and chips when they were deprived of their regular slumber. Indeed those participants who got several nights of poor sleep consumed 300 calories more per day than those who were well rested.
Examining the cause of these sleep-deprived munchies, researchers found that sleep deprived participants were more likely to have higher levels of endocannabinoids in their blood “a key component of hedonic pathways involved in modulating appetite and food intake” that turns up the pleasure we experience when eating unhealthy foods.
“We found that sleep restriction boosts a signal that may increase the hedonic aspect of food intake, the pleasure and satisfaction gained from eating,” said Erin Hanlon, PhD, a research associate in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Chicago. “Sleep restriction seems to augment the endocannabinoid system, the same system targeted by the active ingredient of marijuana, to enhance the desire for food intake.”