I read an interesting article the other day about so called 'social jetlag' and how this is the blight of today's workers. .(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2147241/Have-got-social-jetlag.html#ixzz1wL0A2BH8)
Apparently 80% of the population are suffering from social jetlag. If you work long hours and feel tired during the day, lie in at weekends to catch up on your sleep or wake up every morning feeling groggy when your alarm goes off then you are suffering from social jetlag.
Your thoughts may well be the same as mine…..this is just another made up problem for us to worry about, a bit like 1 glass of red wine per day is good or bad for your health, depending on the article that you are reading. But apparently scientists are 'increasingly convinced that social jet lag is a real problem caused by the demands that everyday life places upon us'. These demands range from the obvious such as longer working hours to artificial stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine.
The article likens the symptoms of social jetlag to those that you suffer when you have actual jet lag - things like feeling sleepy during the day, craving comfort food constantly and feeling generally 'out of sorts'. The difference is however that after a few days of jetlag our bodies recover and readjust back to normal, whereas with social jetlag it is constant, we never give our bodies time to adjust.
Women on average get 6 ½ hours sleep per night, experts recommend a minimum of 8. Using artificial stimulants such as caffeine to wake us up just covers up the fact that we are exhausted. In this day and age we are all constantly on out mobiles and email - with 24 hour contact the likelihood of you winding down properly being increasingly unlikely. This leads us to feeling permanently out of sorts and tired.
Research has found that social jetlag may have long term effects as the greater the jetlag the greater the reliance on things such as alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. It doesn't take a genius to work out that if someone is relying on these then they are likely to be unhealthy and overweight.
The jury's out as far as I'm concerned regarding social jetlag. I work long hours, I think most of us do these days, and yes I don't exactly spring out of bed every morning when my alarm goes off. But I certainly don't feel irritable and out of sorts - I'm healthy, eat well and exercise a lot. I don't smoke and I only drink a couple of glasses of wine on a weekend. Yes there are days when I do feel extremely tired, particularly after a very hard week, but you just get over it I think!
I think that it is to be expected that you feel tired when you work long hours and you work hard, like we do. But I also think it is so important that you enjoy your down time. I play a lot of tennis and I think that really helps me to defeat social jetlag - after a long day in the office there really is nothing better than getting outside in the fresh air and doing some exercise.
So is social jetlag a myth or real problem that the working population face? I'll let you decide…….
(To calculate your personal social jet lag, subtract the number of hours of sleep you get on an average working week night when you're woken by an alarm clock from the number of hours of sleep you get when you don't use an alarm to wake you up. So if you normally go to bed at 11pm and get up for work at 7am, but sleep in until 9am when you don't set your alarm, your social jet lag is two hours - obviously the more hours your jetlag is, the worse it is!)