Social Jetlag: No Travel Required
Can’t wait for the weekend so you can stay up late and sleep in the next morning? Be warned — those extra minutes of slumber may come at a price, including a risk of weight gain, alcoholism and depression. Learn about social jetlag, how it affects businesses and how wise employees and entrepreneurs can try to avoid it.
What is Social Jetlag?
Social jetlag is the effect of fighting your body’s natural circadian rhythms by sleeping short nights during the week and sleeping in late on the weekends.
2 in 3
Estimated number of people affected by social jetlag
How it happens: (1)
- You set an alarm on weekdays so you can get to work on time.
- Once the weekend comes, you don’t bother setting the alarm.
- On weekend days, you get out of bed whenever your body naturally wakes up.
- As a result, you get more sleep on your days off and your sleep schedule is probably closer to your body’s natural rhythms.
1 a.m. to 9 a.m.
When most of the population would naturally like to sleep. These are the people who are most likely to experience social jet lag during the week – when they have to get up early. (1)
1/3 of workers suffer from “extreme” jetlag – a sleep misalignment of more than 2 hours. (2)
Bad Night’s Sleep
Many negative consequences can come from oversleeping on your days off.
- Reduced performance and productivity
- Reduced creativity and problem-solving capacity
- Greater risk of obesity
- Higher rate of smoking
- Higher caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Higher rate of depression
Your risk of being overweight if your workday and weekend sleep schedules are different, with BMI rising in proportion to the difference (3)
Typical annual weight gain of shift workers (1)
Why the weight gain? (1, 4)
- Being forced to eat when your body isn’t ready to
- Storing fat more efficiently
- Less tolerance of stress and using food as a coping mechanism
- Late-night snacking
Avoiding Social Jetlag
Here are some ways to prevent or avoid social jetlag:
- Work a schedule that aligns more naturally with your optimal sleep schedule.
- Go to bed earlier than you normally would on Friday or Saturday so you’ll feel better on Monday.
- Get elevated exposure to sunlight during waking hours.
- Avoid heavy sunlight in the hours before sleep.
- Don’t drink heavily close to bedtime.
- Have a dark and electronics-free bedroom.