Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Marijuana, Munchies, and Missing Sleep

Who knew that missing sleep had anything in common with marijuana?

It turns out that sleep loss elevates the levels of substances called endocannabinoids circulating in your body. These endocannabinoids push some of the same buttons in your body and your brain (cannabinoid receptors) that marijuana (cannabis) does. And a new study published in Sleep finds that sleep deprivation, by raising the levels of endocannabinoids in your body, gives you the munchies just as marijuana does. Commenting on this important new study, Frank Scheer tells us:

This study supports the novel insight that sleep restriction may not only lead to increased caloric intake due to changes in homeostatic regulation of energy balance, as has been shown by this group and others, but also by changes in hedonic aspects of food consumption.

In other words, when you’re sleep deprived, food starts looking more desirable and delivering more pleasure. This just adds to the risks that flow from losing sleep. It’s long been known that sleep deprivation causes physiological changes that harm your health. A wide range of risks factors jump: blood pressure, impaired immunity, memory problems, accidental injuries, diabetes, depression, and trouble thinking clearly. And did we mention the increased risk of obesity?

So please, get some sleep.

Click here to read the study, here to read the commentary, and here to read more from NPR.

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies, photograph © Emma / flickr

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March 3, 2016