You don’t have to be a dope-smoking pothead to feel the tummy-rumbling urges of the munchies.
If you’re not getting good sleep, you could end up getting “buzzed” in the same part of the brain as someone who tokes.
As a result, when you’re sitting up past midnight — again — to watch some dopey late-night talk show, you’ll experience the urge for a bag of chips…or something else you know you shouldn’t eat…but can’t help but crave anyway.
The latest research shows exactly how the process unfolds: As you miss out on sleep, you experience rising levels of brain chemicals called endocannabinoids.
As the name implies, that’s the same type of chemical that goes wild if you partake in cannabis, leading to a number of side effects including the infamous “munchies.”
And it’s not just while you’re up instead of sleeping. After you finally go to bed and get a short night of sleep, your levels of a specific endocannabinoid called 2AG continues to rise throughout the next day, until they hit a “high” in the late afternoon.
That’s right in the post-lunch/pre-dinner lull, when you’re already tempted to snack on junk.
And they don’t go away after that. Those 2AG levels remain high into the evening, leading to a vicious cycle of even more temptation and late night snacking on stuff that’s high in calories, saturated fat, preservatives and other God-knows-what that goes straight to your waistline.
The study didn’t just look at blood levels, but also the real-world impact of them — letting volunteers on either short sleep or a full night’s rest eat whatever they wanted at a snack bar.
Sure enough, the ones who didn’t get their shuteye — the ones with the 2AG munchies — went for the cookies, candy, chips. and other snacks. Folks who got all 40 winks were more likely to pass on the junk.
It’s not a matter of “willpower”…or “self control”…or being a “good” versus a “bad” eater. It can boil right down to your brain chemistry — but, thankfully, there’s an easy trick you can try to hack the signals beaming from your brain to the Butterfingers.
Sleep more, and you’ll eat better.
If you’re up late watching TV because you CAN’T sleep even when you try, supplements of the “sleep hormone” melatonin may help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer.
If you’ve tried that and STILL can’t sleep, you might have something else going on that needs attention from a skilled naturopathic medical doctor.
I recommend an experienced member of the American College for Advancement in Medicine.