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Why You're So Hungry When Daylight Saving Time Begins

It may mean more hours of sunlight, but daylight saving time can play tricks on your appetite.

If you feel a bit sleepy after daylight saving time (and hungry enough to eat a horse), you're not alone. The average American loses 40 minutes of shut-eye the night after daylight saving time begins, according to the University of Michigan sleep researchers.

And though that may not seem like a big deal, it's more alarming than you would think. "Springing forward" has been associated with a range of misfortunes, from an increase in traffic accidents to workplace injuries to insatiable hunger. If you can't seem to stay away from your office snack stash on the day that follows, the time change is likely to blame. Which brings us to the big question…

Why are you so hungry when daylight saving time starts?

Essentially, it's simply from that hour of sleep you lose when the clock springs forward while you're sleeping that messes with your body. Back in 2012, researchers examined the sleeping habits of adult men and women over the course of a week and found that those who were told to cut an hour and 20 minutes from their typical sleep time consumed an average of 549 extra calories per day. (FYI: That's what you'd find in a McDonald's Big Mac!)

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Nutrition expert Jay Cardiello explains that when you don't get enough sleep, levels of leptin (the "I'm full" hormone) drop, which in turn increases appetite and makes comfort food more appealing. And because sleep deprivation effects have been shown to linger for as long as six days after we switch the clocks, those additional daily calories can result in a pound of extra fat on your frame. Alissa Rumsey MS, RD, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness, echoed this idea in our article 25 Reasons You're Gaining Weight.

"Lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin, the satiety hormone," she said. "Research also shows that when we're sleep-deprived, our brains respond more strongly to junk food and have less of an ability to practice portion control."

To stay on track with your better-body goals and ward off extra pounds, sip extra water (staying adequately hydrated helps keep the munchies away) and check out these 30 Things to Do Before Bed to Lose Weight.

RELATED: Learn how to fire up your metabolism and lose weight the smart way.

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Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Ilana Muhlstein lost her weight and kept it off—and in You Can Drop It!, she'll show you how to lose it, too. More than 240,000 clients have chosen her program—and now it’s yours to keep.

Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more
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