What is social jet lag and how do we combat it?

What is social jet lag?

Having to snooze in most mornings and feeling exhausted? Not to get confused with oversees jet lag but extremely similar symptoms with roughly 87% of Brits suffering with it. Social jet lag can effect us as a direct result of living out of sync with nature and our circadian rhythms. It occurs when we are not getting enough sunlight and our bodies aren’t sure when it is time to go to sleep.

Modern life is tricking our bodies as to what time of day it is due to blue light. We are not getting sufficient sunlight in the morning when it’s the most important time to do so. We then sit on our phones at night tricking our bodies that it’s not time to sleep yet.

 
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Our ancestors relied on the notion of sunrise and sunset but due to modern screen culture our brains are not being told the day is over because we continue to live in ‘daylight’ watching ipads, laptops and phones from our beds emitting blue light which suppresses Melatonin. Currently melatonin the hormone we make at night is being shown in head to head studies to have anti-anxiety properties which is being taken away from us through the above. We have now made a new stressor which is we’ve created uncertainty in our brains because we don’t know if it’s sunrise or sunset.

*It was found from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that people who go to bed much later and get up much later on weekends suffer from lower moods and dysfunctional sleep.

 
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7 top tips to combat social jet lag

1.) REGULARITY IS KEY

People try to cure their jet lag or social jet lag by lying in all weekend and ‘catching up’ up on sleep but getting up everyday at the same time is important, regularity is key otherwise we’re dragging our body clocks back to our weekly clock come Monday morning. According to Mathew Walker author of ‘Why We Sleep’ it’s more exhausting having a lie in than a late night. If you’re tired it’s better to go to bed an hour earlier or have a power nap.

2.) COFFEE/ALCOHOL

Many of us are waking up with coffee and going to sleep with Alcohol. Even if you think your one of those people who can fall asleep after a cup of coffee after dinner, a study was done where people were given a standard cup of coffee and then they measured their brain waves during their sleep and found that one dose of caffeine in the evening decreased deep sleep by 20%. 'Caffeine has an average half-life of five to seven hours. Lets say that you have a cup of coffee after your evening dinner, around 7.30pm this means that by 1.30am 50% of caffeine may still be active and circulating throughout your brain tissue. In other words, by 1.30am your only halfway on completing the job off leaning the brain of the caffeine you drank after dinner.’ Mathew Walker.

Alcohol too, people think it will help them drift off at night but its only a sedative, it doesn’t help you stay asleep it actually does the opposite and steals your sleep therefore making you more tired in the morning so you reach for that first coffee. It’s a cycle.

3.) BLUE LIGHT

Morning light is blue light and energises us to wake up. Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world and may people choose to take their own lives by jumping into the path of oncoming trains. To combat this blue light emitting LED’s have been installed at the end of some station platforms. In some locations where lights have been put in the suicide rates have fallen by 48%.

4.) MORNING COMMUTE

It’s really important we embrace the morning light during winter when we can. This could be sitting by a window with your morning cup of tea and feeling the light on your face. Hop off your bus or tube or park a little way away from your destination so you’re getting sufficient light. We know it will be dark by 4pm so make sure you get out the office at lunch and take some time outside. If the morning sun is bright we encourage you to hold off wearing sunglasses for at least 20 minutes so we get the natural sunlight into the eyes.

 
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5.) SCREEN TIME

In the evening we really encourage you to remove all screens from your bedroom, buy an alarm clock. Experiment with buying blue blocking glasses (very affordable and great for kids) from 8pm onwards if you’re on your laptop or watching tv to help minimise the blue light exposure in the evenings. Candle light can help us shift into that bedtime state.

6.) MOVE

Move in the earlier part of the day, if your doing your Barry’s Bootcamp or Hit & Run class after work before bed this may push your body clock back and it may be harder to fall asleep not to mention depending on the day you’ve had and the stress your bodies been under, it may be throwing fuel onto the fire.


7.) SAD LAMP

If you struggle getting out of bed in the darkness why not experiment with a SAD lamp with 15 people in the UK said to have seasonal affective disorder. Lumie body clock Shine includes a sunrise and sunset colours and 15 sleep and wake sounds, including white noise if you struggle with the London noise.

Images by Pinterest*

Rebecca Tucker