Hanlon’s study compared 14 healthy young adults who had four night of normal sleep (8.5 hours) with those who had four nights of restricted sleep (4.5 hours). Both groups were fed with carefully prepared meals. On the last night of the study, after eating their meal, both groups were taken to a snack bar containing delicious treats like cookies, chips, chocolate, and candy. Those in the sleep deprived group tended to eat snacks with more carbohydrates and nearly twice as much fat and protein.
The team’s research suggested that sleep deprivation affected levels of endocannabinoids, chemicals in the brain that regulate appetite and bind to the same receptors as marijuana. “The increase in endocannabinoid concentration occurred at the same time people reported feeling hungrier,” Hanlon said.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with many negative outcomes. It is extremely important that we understand how getting enough rest can improve our health and lives.