The ‘munchies’ describes a sudden strong desire for food. The phrase, and the phenomenon, has long been associated with the use of marijuana, as after smoking pot people have a tendency to want to eat a lot, particularly junk food and sweets. But a new report has revealed that the munchies also appear after insufficient sleep, and researchers believe that they now know why.
The study was conducted as a collaboration between the University of Chicago’s Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, the University of Chicago Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and was led by Erin Hanlon, PhD, research associate and assistant professor. They found that insufficient sleep raises the level of a specific substance that is a natural appetite stimulant. This, in addition to already-known shifts in the hormone levels of leptin and ghrelin, provide more evidence as to why lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and obesity. According to Hanlon, “Past experimental studies show that sleep restriction increases hunger and appetite. The mechanism for overeating after inadequate sleep may be an elevation in this endocannabinoid molecule, called 2-arachidonoylglycerol, or 2-AG.” Continue reading