Do you have social jet lag?

Shaking up your sleep pattern at the weekend could have consequences on your long-term health, a new study finds


Social jet lag

Do you love spending your weekends partying late into the early hours of the morning? Then having a lovely long lie in the next day to recover? When it gets to Monday it becomes a struggle to get out of bed when the alarm goes off, and it takes several cups of coffee before you ‘switch on’ for morning meetings.

Well, I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you…but you may have ‘social jet lag’.

What’s social jet lag?

A new study by the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona has proven changing or increasing how much you sleep on weekends can impact your health in the long-term. The research found social jet lag is linked to poorer health, worse moods and even heart disease. Furthermore, each hour of social jet lag is associated with an 11 per cent increase in the likelihood of heart disease. These effects are separate from insomnia symptoms which can come from changing your sleep schedule at weekends.

The research team used data from a community-based study of 984 adults aged between 22 and 60-years-old, and calculated social jet lag through a sleep timing questionnaire. To work it out the team subtracted weekday from weekend sleep midpoint and overall health was self-reported using a standardised scale and survey questions assessed sleep duration, insomnia, cardiovascular disease, fatigue and sleepiness.

Sierra B. Forbush, an undergraduate research assistant working on the project, explains: “These results indicate that sleep regularity, beyond sleep duration alone, plays a significant role in our health. This suggests that a regular sleep schedule may be an effective, relatively simple, and inexpensive preventative treatment for heart disease as well as many other health problems”

So, maybe it’s time to rein it in at the weekends? Or maybe not…