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The Unhealthy Food Cravings Caused by Just One Less Hour of Sleep

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After a late night, there's something irresistible about a late brunch. But science has pinpointed the "something" that makes all-you-can-eat waffles sound so appealing. (Besides the fact that waffles are just delicious.) Scientists from Penn State university have not only confirmed what many people already know—that losing sleep makes you hungrier—but they've put a number on it: For every hour of sleep you miss, you eat about 200 extra calories the next day. (These Sleep Mistakes Cause Weight Gain too.)

Researchers deprived teens of sleep and then monitored their total calories and food selection the following day. They found that sleep-deprived people not only eat more but also rack up those those extra calories from simple carbohydrates and fat (so a waffle soaked in butter and syrup!).

But don't cancel all your weekend party plans just yet—one night of missed sleep isn't going to derail your diet. The biggest effect was found in people who chronically skimped on sleep and then tried to make up for it on other days. (Find out What Really Happens When You're Sleep Deprived.)

"According to the data from our study, it's not how long you sleep that matters. It's about day-to-day variations in how long you sleep. It may be more important to have a regular sleep pattern than to sleep longer one day and shorter on another," said Fan He, the lead lead author of the study. "These findings could help us better understand how obesity develops." 

So for now just make sure you're getting consistent shut-eye and on days where you came up short the night before, make an extra effort to keep your snacking under control.

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