For most of us, having an alarm that wake us up five days a week is unpleasant. It’s a heavenly feeling on the weekends, when we can reach for the snooze button and enjoy a sleep in.
Recent research, however, suggests that our social behaviour on Friday and Saturday nights, whether it’s hitting the town or staying up late binge-watching Netflix, are actually wreaking havoc on your body clock and overall health.
Social jet lag is a condition that refers to the misalignment of our natural body clocks and our daily routine. A study from the University of Adelaide found that thirty percent of people either sleep in too late or wake up feeling exhausted after the weekend, in the transition back to work. This results in side effects that mirror the likes of jet lag.
It’s a seemingly vicious cycle. If we are sleep-deprived we can override our bodies need for rest by snacking on sugary items. The increased sugar intake sends the body clock into further awry, affecting our digestion, detoxification, DNA damage repair, circulation and cholesterol, and overall health.
Social jet lag sufferers are also less likely to recognise their sickness signs or feel a degree of pressure to work despite being unwell or overly tired. As a consequence, it is important to consider employees driving, operating dangerous machinery and potentially spreading contagious illness in the workplace.
How to alleviate the effects of social jet lag:
- Set up a regular bed time, even on weekends. This will avoid the temptation to sleep in and alter your body clock.
- Avoid the use of mobile phones or other electronic devices at least an hour before sleep.
- Avoid caffeine including, coffee, tea and chocolate in the afternoon, to ensure the caffeine has left your system by the evening.
- Wake up in the mornings and get some sun time. Vitamin D will help your body clock stay on par with the day-night cycle, making you feel sleepier at night to help you go to bed earlier.
Evidently, sleep regularity plays a significant role in our health, more than sleep duration alone.
A handy hint to keep in mind, as we continue to learn more about sleep health.
Sleep healthy and reclaim your amazing!