Does Lack of Sleep Make You Crave Junk Food?

A sleep disorders expert explains

Q: Does lack of sleep make you crave high-calorie, high-carb foods?

A: Yes! Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (particularly the craving for sweets and snacks). This is because lack of sleep changes the levels of key hormones:

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

  • The hunger-control hormone ghrelin increases, causing you to eat more.
  • The appetite-suppressing hormone leptin decreases.
  • The stress hormone cortisol may increase, stimulating your appetite.

New research shows that sleep deprivation increases levels of a brain chemical similar to the chemicals in marijuana, causing a craving for high-fat foods.

Many people don’t realize that being short of sleep can make a huge difference in your appetite.

Sleep disorders specialist Harneet Walia, MD

Advertising Policy

More information
Why America Has Weight Loss Woes: A Cleveland Clinic-Parade Magazine Survey
5 Foods that Help You Sleep
What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Sleeping Less as You Age? 9 Best Tips to Tackle Insomnia