Skimping on shut-eye makes you more likely to choose unhealthy foods—and eat more of them, new research from Kings College London suggests. After analyzing 28 studies, the researchers concluded that people who slept an average of 3 to 5.5 hours a night ate an extra 385 calories the next day compared to people who got 7 to 12 hours of sleep.

When you are sleep deprived, your body churns out more hunger-inducing hormones like grehlin and less of the satiety hormone leptin, says study author Gerda Pot, Ph.D.

This prompts you to eat more since your body thinks it is short on energy and needs to fuel up to keep running smoothly.

Sleep deprivation also makes you more likely to seek out junk foods that make you feel good, says Pot. Past research has shown that high-fat foods tend to spark the reward system in your brain more than other foods when you’re tired.

So if you want to make it easier on yourself to make healthy eating choices, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, says Pot.


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