Research Says Sleep Deprivation Can Bring On the Munchies

Experiencing frequent sleep deprivation can have a variety of side effects on your body and can stray a little further from just feeling a little sleepy or lethargic during the day!

If you’ve been struggling to get a good night’s sleep you might have wondered why your desire to head to the biscuit tin or crisp cupboard has increased.

This is because sleep research has shown that one of the consequences of sleep deprivation is that it can cause you to feel hungry.

Unfortunately though, your hunger from lack of sleep doesn’t give you a craving to head to the fruit bowl or eat something healthy and nutritious, but sleep deprivation affects hunger by making us want to eat higher calorie and fatty foods instead.


A number of studies researching this idea have supported the notion that a reduction in sleep can result in hunger.

For example, researches from the German Universities Tubingen and Lubeck and Uppsala in Sweden found that sleep deprivation was linked to the feeling of being hungry and having higher blood levels of ghrelin also referred to as the ‘hunger hormone’.

Another study from Northwestern University also saw a relationship between people who frequently stayed up late and the desire to eat unhealthier foods, but who also weighed more and ate a higher amount of food during the evening in comparison to those who went to bed earlier.

This particular study also noted that those who regularly went to the bed later and would wake up the day after later would intake an added 248 calories per day than individuals with an earlier bed time and wake up time according to HuffPost’s Healthy Living article looking at sleep deprivation increasing hunger.


A study from the University of California found some more interesting evidence to back up the suspected correlation between sleep deprivation and fatty food cravings.

MRI scanners were used on 23 participants following a full night’s sleep and were then scanned after after a night of deprived sleep. The scan also measured each individuals brain activity as they rated the appeal of particular foods says Fox News Magazine reporting on the study.

The researchers of the study saw that a deprived night’s sleep caused impaired activity in certain parts of the participant’s brains concerning satisfaction and consequence as well as the desire to want to eat fattier foods.

So the research from various studies has demonstrated that a reduction of sleep can induce a craving for fatty foods, but you’ll probably be wondering why this occurs!


As was already briefly mentioned, ghrelin is the hormone responsible for stimulating appetite which causes you to eat, however another hormone, leptin performs the opposite task of suppressing your appetite.

When the brain is functioning properly, these two hormones are released at different times to control the normal feelings you have of feeling hungry.

However, sleep deprivation affects and alters these hormones making you feel hungrier at times when you wouldn’t usually feel as hungry.

A restriction of sleep to four hours a night means “ghrelin levels go up and leptin levels go down” according to the National Sleep Foundation spokesperson William Orr in’s report looking at how sleep deprivation increase weight.


If you haven’t quite been getting your full quota of sleep and have noticed an increase in your appetite for high fatty foods, then it’s important that you try and look at your sleeping pattern and cycle to try and increase the amount of sleep you are receiving.

Check out our blog here if you want to know more about how getting more sleep may help you to lose weight.