Friday, May 25, 2012

Bad Sleep Habits Cause “Social Jetlag”

We all know that bad sleep habits aren’t good for us or our students. But, keeping those late hours may have worse consequences that we realize. They result in “social jetlag”:

Researchers led by Till Roenneberg of the University of Munich analyzed sleep logs of more than 65,000 Europeans ages 10 to 80. They found that weekly average sleep plummets between ages 10 and 20, largely because of increased social and work obligations. More than 80 percent, the researchers found, used an alarm clock to wake during the week, indicating that they had to wake earlier than their natural sleep cycle, and those with a later circadian rhythm, such as teenagers, had even more disrupted sleep patterns.

Most of the study participants tried to pay off their sleep deficit on the weekend, staying out later at night and sleeping and eating later on Saturday and Sunday. This created what Roenneberg and his colleagues called "social jetlag," because the Monday-morning drag was similar in both cause and effect to flying West several timezones on Saturday and flying back again Monday morning:

"The symptoms of jetlag (e.g., problems in sleep, digestion and performance) are manifestations of a misaligned circadian system. In travel-induced jetlag, they are transient until the clock re-entrains. In contrast, social jetlag is chronic throughout a working career."

I keep more regular  hours than I used to, but my Sunday afternoons have the feeling of  social jetlag.  Here’s the story from Inside School Research.


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