Staying up past your bedtime tonight puts a kink in your healthy-eating plans tomorrow. Now experts are discovering why that bag of potato chips and office pastries become so much more enticing when you're groggy. A 2016 Sleep study found that after only sleeping for 4 1/2 hours, people chose snacks with 50 percent more calories than when they logged 8 1/2 hours in bed. The researchers attribute this to a brain chemical called 2-AG that makes food especially irresistible. In sleep-deprived people, levels of 2-AG spiked by 33 percent.

Sleeplessness also messes with your hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells your brain that you're full. Ghrelin does the opposite, ramping up appetite. When you don't get enough sleep, these hormones go haywire. Restricting sleep to 4 hours a night has been shown to lower satiety-linked leptin levels and raise hunger-inducing ghrelin, collectively boosting appetite by 23 percent, in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Another study found that getting too few zzzs also revs up production of acylcarnitines, substances that may interfere with your body's ability to use insulin efficiently. This makes it difficult for your cells to soak up glucose, their favorite source of fuel. Without enough glucose on tap, cells think there's an energy shortage, so they tell your brain that you need to eat more.

Video: Eat This to Sleep Better

3 Surprising Sleep Stealers

Set yourself up to feel and eat better tomorrow by getting a better night's sleep tonight. Here are three reasons you might not be getting enough and how to minimize their impact on your shut eye.

1. E-book Reading

Reading before bed-great! Reading from a tablet-maybe not. People who read electronic books before bed versus reading printed books took longer to fall asleep, per a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These devices emit blue light, which may suppress the sleep-wake regulating hormone melatonin, so stick to old-school print or diminish blue light by using night settings or a program like f.lux.

2. A Full Moon

Moon madness is a real thing-and it could mess with your sleep. Researchers aren't sure why, but deep sleep decreased by 30 percent during full moons, found a study in Current Biology. People also lost 20 minutes of sleep overall. The study rooms were totally dark, so make sure your blinds are drawn to keep out the extra light of the full moon that could further disturb your slumber.

3. A New Environment

Trouble sleeping somewhere new is called first-night effect, and Brown University researchers may have pinpointed how it happens. Basically, one hemisphere of the brain never fully goes to sleep. Bringing something you usually sleep with (like a pillow) may make the room seem more familiar, lessening the effect. Fortunately, first-night effect is usually significantly reduced on the second night.

November/December 2016