Can social jetlag harm your health?

Social jetlag can cause several health problems (Thinkstock)

There are times when you wake up bright and happy but through the day end up feeling tired and sleepy, thus compensating for those lost hours of sleep on weekends. This, in turn, causes a sleep deficit during the weekdays. According to a study, researchers in Europe have coined the term ‘social jetlag’ to describe the all too-common practice of following a different sleep schedule on weekdays versus the weekend.
“Sleep plays an important role both in the physiological and psychological development of an individual’s body,” says sleep expert Dr Preeti Devnani. “Our body has a preferred time for sleep and activity, which when hampered, causes various changes in your body,” she adds.

What is social jet lag?
Unlike a jet lag that you normally get when you travel different time zones, social jet lag is the chronic clash between what your body needs (sleep) and what your life demands (work or activity). And this plays havoc on your everyday life.
According to researchers, over the past few decades, people have been experiencing the problem of social jet lag because of the constant work pressure, going off to bed late at night, yet waking up at the normal time, thus losing out on approximately 40 minutes of sleep.

What it does to your body

Social jet lag is said to be the root cause of more than one problem.
Excessive weight gain: Those who miss out on their sleep during weekdays are said to gain at least one to two kilos in a week! Lack of sleep messes with your internal clock, thus making you feel cranky, irritable and hungry all the time. This leads to eating more than your body requires and gaining more weight. Researchers suggest every hour of social jet lag accrued increases the risk of being overweight or obese by about 33 per cent.
Irritable behaviour: Lack of sleep could lead to irritable behaviour and mood swings in people. You constantly feel cranky and find it difficult to concentrate on your work, thus leading to low self-esteem.
Low production at work: Another major drawback of social jet lag is that it lowers your productivity. Lack of sleep can make you feel sleepy through the day, thus hampering your concentration at work.
Low sex drive: Apart from the points mentioned above, it is also the reason behind a low sex drive in most people.
Says Arohan Mitra, 29-year-old software professional, “I have been married for a year and a half and each day when I come home, I don’t feel like getting intimate with my wife because I cannot sleep much over the weekdays. I need to be at work by 9 am and come home around 11:30 pm at night five days through the week. On weekends, I prefer catching up on sleep, rather than engaging in any other activity.”
Impacts your immunity: Social jet lag can also be the reason behind low immunity. If you are not sleeping well, you maybe prone to catching a cold or fever every now and then. Prolonged lack of sleep can also disrupt the body’s normal functioning, thus giving way to more illnesses.
Prone to illnesses:Diabetes, cardiac problems, respiratory problems etc are all related to lack of sleep. When your body does not get the adequate amount of sleep that it requires, your body is sure to succumb to illnesses like these.
How much sleep is essential?
Catching up on sleep on weekends is not enough for your body. Says Dr Vikas Agarwal, sleep apnea expert says, “Make it a point to go off to bed at least by 10 pm on a daily basis. If you come home late, don’t immediately go off to bed after having your meal. Wait for half an hour and then sleep. Also, remember that two days in a week you should be able to go off to bed before 12 am. This way you will gain on those lost hours of sleep.”

[“source-ndtv”]

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