In the same way that travelling across time zones upsets our sleep schedule and causes jet lag, so does our 24-hour society. Between our work, personal and social lives, there simply are not enough hours in the day to accomodate all of our demands, which is why we often steal those hours from our sleep allotment. Too many early mornings and late nights upsets our bodies’ circadian rythym, resulting in “social jet lag.”
“Social jet lag,” according to Dr. Ojile, is essentially what happens when you adjust your sleeping schedule to accommodate your lifestyle, and “your body’s biological rhythm gets out of sync or out of phase with your daily schedule.”
The lack of sleep will show itself not only in those dark circles, but also on your figure. For every hour of sleep discrepancy experienced, individuals are 33% more likely to have a high body mass index. In order to boost wakefulness, your body increases your appetite to compensate for the sleep deprivation. Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the key breast cancer preventatives, so depriving yourself of sleep could also mean depriving yourself of health.
The obvious solution to this dilemma is to sleep more, however that is often easier said than done. Here are some tips from Self that can help improve the sleep you do get, however.
- As much as possible, stick with a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.
- Avoid excessive time in bed or napping.
- Eliminate pre-sleep habits that invoke hyper-arousal (no more bedtime pillow fights!).
- Avoid caffeine within several hours of bedtime and alcohol at bedtime.
- Reserve your bed for sleep.
- Remove technology from your bedroom: TV, computer, iPad, iPhone, e-readers, etc.
- Exercise in the late afternoon.
For more information about the causes and symptoms of social jet lag, read the full article at Self.