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Social Jet Lag. Changing your sleep schedule on weekends and its consequences

Who doesn't love sleeping in?!


But does it love you back?


Sleeping in and changing up on your weekend may create something called Social Jet Lag which can can actually make you "blue" or more fatigued.

Social Jet Lag (SJL) is a discrepancy between an individual’s intrinsic circadian preference and their actual sleep times imposed by occupational and social obligations. More simply defined ; it is the discrepancy in sleep time between weekdays and weekend.


This extra sleeping in or change in schedule may make us sleepier, effect our moods, and make us eat less healthy according to research including a recent study (DeYonker,et.al).

Participants included 82 adults (n=48 female), with an average age of 26.5 years, SD= 6.9. The average sleep duration on work days and free days was 7.0 hours (SD= 0.9 hours) and 7.5 hours (SD= 1.3 hours), respectively. The average Social Jet lag experienced between work days and free days was 0.86 hours (SD= 0.8 hours). Remarkably 10.8% of participants (n=9) had Social Jet lag >2 hours.

Results showed that greater social jet lag was associated with later sleep onset time on free days (r= 0.36, p= 0.001) and higher Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores (r= 0.25, p= 0.02).


Basically pushing ourselves to stay up later then our bodies typical rhythm makes use sleepier.


Now with daylight savings time kicking in this week; we can see how just a small change in sleep schedule can completely throw us off.


How to handle this?


Bottom line. Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake at the same time every day.


Even setting your alarm for your weekday time and trying to get up is better then "sleeping in" on the weekends.


I remember a long time ago as an undergraduate in college and during my single days how much my schedule would veer to late nights and sleeping in on the weekends. I remember how I would feel slightly depressed and blue for no known reasons on the weekends. Now, I know that was social jet lag.


Social Jet lag fits in the category of things that disrupt the circadian rhythm ; these are called dyschronogens.


The body craves rhythm


Other dyschronogens include:

  • Caffeine after 3pm.

  • Alcohols near bedtime

  • Eating too close to bedtime

  • Screen use close to bedtime. (can use blue light blockers if needed)

  • Some medications

  • Wrongly timed supplements

  • Time zone changes

How to get back on track: if your circadian rhythm is disrupted you can get it back on track.

  • One of the best way's is to commit to a consistent bedtime schedule and wake schedule.

  • After that is established; train yourself to get sunlight or UV light upon awakening. I personally wake at 5:00 am every day with a sunrise simulator . It works amazingly well in the dreary dark months of wither.

  • Go camping. Camping is one of the best ways to reset your circadian rhythm. After a weekend camping you are likely to be resynced.






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