Ask the Dietitians

Why Do I Feel so Hungry after a Bad Night’s Sleep?

Find out why we go for high-calorie and high-carb foods after a sleepless night.

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Sleep can have a powerful effect on appetite – getting too little sleep can alter the way your brain makes decisions about food and disturb our hormone levels, which can stimulate feelings of hunger and the likelihood of impulsive eating. Levels of leptin – a hormone that regulates satiety – decrease, while the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin goes on the rise.

Being tired affects brain function in several ways that can change your eating behavior. Sleep loss increases impulsivity and stimulates the reward centers of your brain, making you more prone to eat foods high in calories, fat and sugar. Stress and mood are negatively affected by lack of sleep and can make you more likely to eat for reasons other than hunger. And the body appears to be driven to eat more after a night of poor sleep to compensate for the energy expended being awake. Sleep is more than just rest for your body and mind; it helps you manage appetite and healthful eating.

See alsoGet a Good Night’s Sleep with These Nightly Dinners