For some of us, an insufficient amount of sleep (less than five hours a night) seems illegal. Without enough rest every night, our bodies don’t have enough time to recharge and be energized for the coming day. Sleep is NOT for the weak and is pivotal for high-functioning humans.

Not only is sleep clearly necessary for everyone, but it’s super important for college students because it’s the time when we solidify and consolidate memories (which just might come in handy for some of us). However, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago found that just like smoking weed will give you the munchies, so will a lack of sleep.

Photo courtesy of

According to their findings, those who don’t get enough sleep at night crave snacks filled with sugar and fat. In fact, UChicago researchers found that participants of the study who repeatedly slept poorly ate about 400 calories more each day than the nights when they got enough sleep. Not only that, but the extra calories that participants consumed were more likely to be foods with lots of calories and two times as much fat.

From these findings, analysts were able to conclude that the activation of the endocannabinoid system, a main component of the hedonic pathways that balance the appetite and food intake, might be connected with sleepy overeating. Even though it might have seem obvious, this is the very first study to prove the association between sleep restriction and excessive food intake.

Photo by Carmen Tan

But beyond all of the science, this study makes it clear and simple: sleep is beyond important to live a healthy life. Without sleep, your body will be prone to hunger when you really aren’t in need of food. And even living as a college student, we all know that stuffing our faces at 2 am with double stuffed Oreos (or whatever your guilty pleasure is – you pick your poison) isn’t the best idea.

So how are these extra calories from minimal sleep the same as the junk food munchies from lighting up? Well, scientists argue that chemicals in the brains of sleep-deprived people are similar to those found in those who have enjoyed cannabis, causing a desire for high-calorie and sugary snacks.

Photo by Kelley Buck

So what should you take away from this? Never eat after 8 pm? Nope. Always get at least ten hours of sleep per night? No – this isn’t realistic at all. But you should take away that being aware of how much sleep you are getting (and making a conscious effort to get as much shuteye as you can) and being aware that what you’re eating late at night (or early in the morning) can have a very big impact on your health and well-being.