There is no doubt that sleep is a critical factor in a healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation quickly destroys rational thought and brain function. Within a short period of time, if the brain does not slip into microsleeps, it is very likely that the organism (human or otherwise) will die.
Nothing destroys sleep patterns faster than stress. That’s ok in today’s society, because we can just use medications to override the problem. Pay no mind to the man behind the current claiming that recent studies suggest that this may cost American’s half a million lives per year, all the while being only minimally effective.
So stress begins to interfere with sleep. Stress also wreaks havoc on pretty much every organ system in our bodies and increases the risk for almost (if not all) chronic diseases that we suffer from. Stress also begins to affect the decisions we make about things like diet and exercise. We have seen that stressful situations increase our desire for high calorie, low nutrient density foods instead of broccoli.
This particular study paints the picture just a little grimmer. Normally, our appetite is partially regulated by the amount of glucose running through our bloodstream. However, researchers found that, under acute sleep deprivation (a night without any sleep), hedonic desires for food dominated irrespective of glucose levels. Basically, getting less sleep is going to increase your hunger levels and overall food intake.
Then, putting these studies together, we can bet that your ability to override going for that Cinnabon roll over the vegetarian omelette after a night of sleep deprivation is pretty darn non-existent.