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Two separate studies published this week – one by the University of Chicago, the other by Stanford University – suggest that when people suffer from lack of sleep it can raise hormone levels in a way that makes them hungrier.

Thus, if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re probably getting more than enough food.

Lack of sleep, apparently, results in a reduction in leptin, a hormone that tells you that you aren’t hungry anymore, and an increase in ghrelin, which tells you that you are. One study put the magic number at four hours a night minimum, while the other said five hours per night minimum.

Thus, since in the US there tend to be a lot of people who live time-constrained, high-pressure lives that don’t lend themselves to a lot of sleep, this could be yet another reason for increasing obesity rates.
KC's View:
Well, this explains a lot.

The real question is why leptin makes us want to eat ice cream just before we settle down for those four short hours of sleep that we get…