Why Does Lack of Sleep Give Us the Munchies?

Mar 11, 2016

Credit Katharine Du / NPR

Getting too little sleep has long been associated with overeating and increased body weight. But Prairie Public News recently asked why. The answer appears to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Hormones associated with hunger and being satisfied are also affected. And now, a new study finds evidence that sleep deprivation can produce a lipid in our bloodstream that may make eating more pleasurable. The lipid is called endocannabinoid, and you may recognize a familiar word root there. “Cannabin” sounds a lot like cannabis. Turns out, when we don’t sleep enough, our bodies produce compounds that act on the same parts of the brain as marijuana. So, the next time you have a sleepless night and reach for the Doritos and Oreos, you’ll know why. You’ve got the sleep deprivation munchies.