Social Jetlag Impacts a Third of Australians
Social jetlag probably isn’t a term you hear every day.
But what is it? And is it possible that it is hitting Australians especially hard?
‘Social Jetlag’ is a term that was coined back in 2006 by Till Roenneberg… a chronobiologist at the Institute of Medical Psychology at Ludwig-Maximilian University.
It is used to describe ‘the effect that drastic changes in sleep patterns can have on the body.’
You get up early for work on a Monday. But then, you have to go to bed later than usual because of basketball practice for your kids in the evening.
By the time you get them fed and tucked away in bed, you have stayed up 2 hours past your usual bedtime.
That’s ok, because you can make it up on the weekend. Right?Well, you can. But as it turns out, this may not actually be as good for you as sleep specialists used to think.
What is the problem with social jetlag?
The problem is this. Drastic changes in sleeping patterns can really disrupt our bodily systems. In fact, Roenneberg found that these types of sleeping schedules (staying up late, catching up on the weekends) can even disrupt our circadian rhythm.
This could affect a lot of systems in our body; including cell repair, digestion, and even temperature regulation.
And in case you are wondering if this is all pseudoscience… well, no such luck.
A study conducted back in 2018, by Duke University Medical Center, showed that those who slept irregular hours on the weekends (either to catch up on sleep, or to party extra-hard) were more likely to suffer from all kinds of different health problems.
These problems include issues like higher blood pressure, higher body mass index, and an increased risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Of course, there is still a lot to learn. Researchers are unsure of causality… and it is possible that there are other factors that have yet to be determined.
But still. As it stands now, social jetlag actually seems to be a real issue… especially for Australians.
How much of an impact does it have on Australians?
Social Jetlag has been talked about in Australia for some time now. In a recent news article, 1 in 3 Australians were reported to have experienced social jetlag, due to a number of different factors.
Smartphone use and sleep deprivation due to busy schedules seem to be what cause the most problems.
This only adds to the growing pool of evidence that Australians are actually growing more and more sleep deprived as time goes on. According to some researchers, Australia definitely has a sleep deprivation problem. And this problem is also taking a serious toll on people’s health and well-being!
These statements are also backed up by a study that was published in the journal Sleep Medicine. According to the study, which was led by a professor named Adams, social jetlag was defined as when the time of a person’s bedtime on work nights was more than an hour out-of-sync with when they went to sleep on weekends or days off.
What can be done about it?
Unfortunately, busy schedules do not always allow for a fast fix to the problem.
But there are some tips that can help!
Researchers say that going to bed slightly earlier, and waking up slightly later, can do a lot more good for you than sleeping in super-late on just one day… and can help you to avoid the damaging effects of social jetlag.
It is also recommended that you avoid using your smartphone for about an hour before bed. The key here is to try to keep bed times, and wake-up times, as regular and consistent as possible.