On Sunday, March 10, the clocks pushed forward an hour, trading you sunlight for sleep. This sounds fair —in theory — but it sure as heck doesn’t feel like it. Daylight saving time (DST) can throw you for a loop, catapulting you into a state of what feels like permanent exhaustion for days, sometimes weeks after the exchange has been made. On the surface, you might assume your internal clock is the only thing DST messes with. But alas, friends, according to new research, Daylight saving time affects your behavior, too. Interestingly enough, the proof of that can be found in one of the most unexpected places: your shopping cart.
Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with DST that I think a lot of people can relate to. I love the sunshine and live for the longer days ahead. But I hate waking up every morning feeling like I’ve been hit by a bus. Generally speaking, I’m actually the linear definition of a morning person. I rise and shine as soon as I wake up, save for the first week or so post-DST, that is. This time of year, you can find me downing large cups of coffee for the slightest hint of energy. It’s a struggle, it’s a mood, and evidently, it's a behavioral change-up, too.
Aside from the fact that you might be struggling to come to when your alarm sounds first thing in the morning, new research from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business discovered that daylight saving time can affect the way you shop for groceries. Skeptical? Well, per ScienceDaily’s press release on the study, it’s similar to how, if you go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, you toss everything and anything that looks appetizing into your cart to curb your hunger (which, to me, looks like cookies on cookies on cookies). Researchers found that sleepy shoppers buy a variety of items to help keep them awake during DST. I mean, is the subconscious pure genius, or what?
In order to test how DST impacts your behavior, researchers conducted a series of studies to analyze how people from North America and Asia, who were experiencing fatigue for various reasons at the time of each experiment, shopped. To give you an idea of what those experiments looked like, one scenario required a "group of sleepy consumers," per ScienceDaily's press release, to choose four candies from five bowls — each of which contained a different type of candy — in any combination.
According to the study’s results, which have been published in the Journal of Marketing Research, sleepy shoppers tend to want more variety in their purchases. More specifically, Charles Weinberg, professor of marketing and behavioral science at UBC Sauder and a co-author of the study, said in a statement for the study's press release that shoppers who are exhausted as a result of DST — who may have lost, on average, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of sleep as a result of the time change — often seek out more variety from their shopping trips.
“We wanted to see how this would play out in the real world,” Weinberg explained. “Through the study we're seeing that you tend to buy more different types of candy bars, for example, on the day after daylight savings time than you would on other days of the week. That's even after controlling for how many candy bars you choose."
Listen, if DST wants to sprinkle a little more variety into your life, I say, c'est la vie. Who doesn’t love indulging in a decadent candy bar once in awhile? If nothing else, see it as a peace offering. The universe knows you're sleepy, and it’s sorry for the inconvenience. Hence, it brings you chocolate. No harm, no foul, right? But here’s the thing: DST doesn’t just switch up your shopping behavior.
Let’s face it: Even the slightest lack of sleep can throw your body into a tizzy, so you probably shouldn’t expect any less when you’re forced to push the clocks forward and sacrifice an hour of prime shut-eye time. In fact, back in November of 2018, Lauren Smith, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian at Dietitians of Palm Valley, told Elite Daily that if you aren’t mindful of adjusting your eating schedule, DST could take a toll on your appetite.
“Considering there is only a one-hour shift when the clocks fall back, daylight saving time shouldn't affect your appetite at a physiological level," Smith explained. However, if you don’t adjust your diet to the new schedule, but start working out earlier in the morning, for example, that’s when your appetite could really feel disrupted.
“The biggest mistakes I see most people make include pushing off meals or snacks far more than one hour," Smith said, "doing intense physical activity on an empty stomach, and then having trouble managing their hunger later in the day."
Bottom line: Just make sure that, if you change one aspect of your schedule in response to DST, you're also being mindful of how it’ll affect your routine, and body, as a whole. We'll get through this, friends, I have faith (and a sudden urge to browse the candy aisle).