You’ve worked hard all week, followed your diet and made sure you were in bed before 10pm. When Friday rolls around, you let yourself loose and party all night. The next day, you wake up past noon, your head is a bit sore, you’re tired and craving some leftover pizza (cheat day anyone?). Apparently, if this is your regular routine, you could be putting your health at risk.
“Social jet lag” is the term sleep experts have dubbed this sleep pattern. It’s very similar to normal jet lag where your body’s biological clock is out of sync with your actual sleep pattern. However, in this circumstance, it’s down to your social life rather than time zones.
A new study, published in American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that this sleeping pattern is linked with a variety of health issues including increased heart disease. “With social jet lag, you are more likely to have heart disease, to feel fatigued, to feel tired and to have a worse mood,” said Sierra Forbush, lead author and research assistant at the University of Arizona.
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The study evaluated nearly 1000 adults ranging from 22 – 60 years old. They were asked about their sleeping habits and general health. It was found that with every one hour that sleep is shifted from your regular routine, you have a 11% higher chance at having heart disease. Also, 28% of people also reported their health as poor when they experienced social jet lag.
So, why does a few hours difference matter? Well the cause may be explained by hormones and circadian rhythm. Although you may still get eight hours’ sleep, it’s the consistency of your sleeping pattern that matters.
“It shed light more on the fact that we need to have a more consistent sleep-wake schedule in addition to a regular and sufficient amount of sleep,” said Dr. Alon Avidan, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.
So, we can’t have any fun, ever? It’s unrealistic to suggest that people should never stay out late on the weekends. It’s unlikely and we shouldn’t look to that being the solution. Instead, Avidan suggests minimizing artificial light when you get home.
Head straight for bed, avoid television and your phone to get your head on the pillow as quickly as possible. It’s also advisable to minimise caffeine and alcohol consumption during your all-nighter as this will only add to the negative health effects.
Sleep is also meant to help you look beautiful FYI, so sleep up ladies.
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