Why We Crave Sweets When We're Sleep Deprived

While I prefer not to label foods as 'good' or 'bad' or 'healthy' or 'junk' (all foods can fit :)), there is a definite connection between sleep and the food choices you make.

For me, sleep is key. I need a solid 7-8 hours. With a lack of sleep, I notice changes in both my mood and food preferences. I crave sweets more often and seriously lack motivation to exercise. I take these as signs my body needs to rest and it reinforces the need for a good night's sleep. Wellness is a cycle. Sleep, stress, mood, health. They're all interconnected. 

Below is a guest post by Selina Hall, giving us the facts for why this happens.

Guest Post By Selina Hall


Do you find that you just want to eat 'junk' when you’re tired? Sleep is critical for our overall health and wellbeing, and there are actually some good reasons why.

sleep and diet

More Sleep = More Mindfulness

There’s a definite connection between sleep and mindfulness. The more sleep people get, the better they are able to tune into their bodies' true needs and resist impulse decisions. 

The opposite is true, too. When you don't getting enough sleep, you're more likely to act out of impulse rather than make mindful decisions. Scientists aren’t sure why or how sleep helps with self-control, but they have established over and over that a connection exists.

More Sleep = Improved Hormone Regulation

Sleep helps regulate the hormones that tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full. When you're tired, your body produces more ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and less leptin (the satiety/fullness hormone). If you’re getting enough rest, your body signals you to eat the amount of food you need. But when you’re tired, your body may tell you to eat slightly more.

Scientists think that this happens because your body knows it doesn’t have enough energy (because you are sleep-deprived) and so it is trying to make up that deficit by consuming more calories (a measurement of energy). 

Carbohydrates and sugars give our bodies quick, easily digestible sources of energy. Thus, you may feel drawn to those foods when sleep deprived.

How to Get More Sleep

Most of us want to sleep more, we just don’t know how. Some of us have tried everything we know and we’re still exhausted. Below are a few ideas to help you improve your sleep.

  • Practice good sleep hygiene. This means cleaning up the way you sleep. Shut down all screens at least an hour before bed. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and even naptime.

  • Ensure your space is comfortable. Only use sheets and blankets you love. Pile pillows on your bed and make sure the ones you sleep on properly support your neck. Ensure that your mattress feels good and keeps good posture while you sleep.

  • Tinker with your environment. Dim your lights, lower the temperature in your room, and put up light-blocking curtains if needed.


When you’re sleeping better, it will be easier to eat well! 


Selina Hall is an expert on sleep health and wellness for BestMattressReviews.com. She believes that sleep is one of the most important pillars of health. Selina lives in Portland, Oregon. She sleeps best under a handmade quilt passed down from her great-grandmother.