Sleep deprivation may cause appetite changes and may boost levels of a chemical that makes eating more pleasurable similar to the marijuana munchies.“We know that marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system and causes people to overeat when they are not hungry, and they normally eat yummy sweet and fatty foods,” said Erin Hanlon, who led the study at the University of Chicago. “Sleep restriction may cause overeating by acting in the same manner.”

Researchers recruited 14 healthy men and women in their 20s as volunteers. According to Medical News Daily, "the group of people agreed to spend four days at a stretch in the university's sleep center, where they stayed in rooms where light and sound were controlled. During one of the 4-day stays, subjects spent 8.5 hours in bed, sleeping an average of 7.5 hours a night. During the other 4-day stay, participants spent just 4.5 hours in bed, sleeping for an average of 4.2 hours each night." The team discovered that after reduced sleep, subjects reported a rise in hunger levels, particularly after consuming their second daily meal.

Medical Marijuana There are 24 states in the US where medical marijuana is acceptable. Shutterstock/ Atomazul

The study suggests that sleep deprivation increases appetite in a similar way to how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the primary active ingredient in marijuana - increases appetite: by targeting the endocannabinoid system "We know that when you activate the cannabinoid system, it modulates brain reward pathways," Hanlon told NBC News. "When you activate the cannabinoid system you are exciting the reward system " backing evidence why the research results are significant and are "relevant to normal life conditions."