CHICAGO (CBS) — The key to eliminating a craving for junk food, and the weight gain that goes with it, may center on the need for more sleep.

New research from the University of Chicago finds that people who are sleep deprived tend to crave sweet and salty snacks, especially later in the day.

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Lack of sleep results in the same effect on the brain as food cravings after smoking marijuana, the researchers found.

While the study was small, the participants who were deprived of sleep (only about 4.5 hours) reported being hungrier and tended to eat unhealthy snacks, like chips, chocolate and cookies.

Participants who got 8.5 hours of sleep craved fewer junk food munchies.

The researchers concluded that “excessive food intake in a state of sleep debt”  could “contribute to the increased risk of obesity associated with insufficient sleep.”

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Two of the study’s authors, Erin Hanlon and Harriet de Wit, are from the University of Chicago.

Their research was published this week in the journal Sleep.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults get seven hours of sleep a night.

The CDC found that about one-third of Americans do not get enough sleep.

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