Why You May Experience Unique Food Cravings When Daylight Savings Time Ends

It's probably not one of your favorite times of year, but Daylight Savings Time (DST) is unavoidable. DST is that time of year when you move your clock back in the fall and ahead in the spring. While many believe DST is due to farmers, it actually has to do with sunlight and energy costs, according to The New York Times. However, the benefits of daylight savings time are heavily contested, and many parts of the world do not adhere to DST. Regardless of the reason, DST definitely affects your body.

One of the most prominent effects of DST is on sleep. According to a study in 2019 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 55% of Americans feel tired when DST ends in the spring. AASM President Dr. Kelly Carden stated, "Studies consistently show that the spring transition to daylight saving time is associated with negative consequences for health, safety, and productivity, all of which may be related to sleep disruption caused by the time change." Therefore, it's not just because you're eating at a different time that you're hungrier or crave unhealthy foods. DST is to blame.

Learn how the end of Daylight Savings Time can affect your natural rhythm and appetite. We'll also explore ways to combat your DST cravings and how long they might last.

How DST affects your hunger hormones

Your sleep cycle is built on the circadian rhythm, which responds to light and dark (via the National Institute of General Medical Sciences). When you disrupt the rhythm, it has immediate effects on your appetite. Research in the Journal of Sleep Research (JSR) showed any disturbance in your sleep can increase your ghrelin levels and decrease leptin levels. Ghrelin is the hormone produced and released by the stomach, which tells your brain when your stomach is full and empty, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The hormone leptin is produced by the fat cells and tells your brain when your body has enough fat stored (via Healthline). So, the disruption of the ghrelin and leptin from DST makes your hunger signals out of wack, and you feel like you're starving. 

Additionally, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition illustrated when you're tired, you make less healthy choices. Given your increased hunger and less interest in healthy choices, you crave high-fat, unhealthy foods like donuts, candy, cake, pizza, and fast food. 

The adjustment to DST can take days to weeks, per the Mayo Clinic. Making adjustments before DST can help you to keep your sleep and appetite normal. For example, adjust the time you go to bed by 15 minutes a few weeks before DST, and take naps as needed during the week after DST. Mayo Clinic also recommends sticking with your regular schedule as best as you can.