life: ‘help! we’ve got so­cial Jet lag – do you?’

Look’s Deputy Ed­i­tor Giselle Wain­wright ad­mits that her so­cial life is play­ing havoc with her own time zone…

Look (UK) - - CONTENTS -

I’m typ­ing this sat in my bed with my lap­top. It’s a reg­u­lar thing. I’ll of­ten work late into the night (still a bur­den even though I love my job), eat din­ner on the go – ad­ding a side or­der of scrolling – and sud­denly it’s way past any nor­mal bed­time.

I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I slept all the way through the night and I don’t un­der­stand the phrase ‘I feel re­ally rested’. Usu­ally I’ll av­er­age about five hours – three fewer than the eight hours the NHS rec­om­mends you should get.

At times, I’ve limped through the work day on just a two-hour stint of sleep af­ter re­fus­ing to stop watch­ing The Good Wife the pre­vi­ous night. Then the rest of the week I’m play­ing catch-up, push­ing the boat out for a wild Friday and Satur­day and claim­ing my hours back by sleeping in un­til 12pm at the weekend. But my prob­lem isn’t in­som­nia. New re­search re­veals I’m part of a grow­ing trend of mil­len­nial sleep avoiders and I’m suf­fer­ing from what’s being coined ‘so­cial jet lag’.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, my love for a full-on week of wine and other (still mainly wine-based) ac­tiv­i­ties, plus 2am In­sta-lik­ing fol­lowed by a snoozy Satur­day is de­stroy­ing my nat­u­ral body clock and caus­ing symp­toms akin to that of ac­tual jet lag af­ter a long-haul flight. It’s a pat­tern that ob­vi­ously con­trib­utes to my 3pm slumps and af­fects my abil­ity to fo­cus as well as my con­cen­tra­tion… Sorry, where was I again?

‘Catch­ing up on lost sleep by get­ting up later at the weekend mim­ics the ef­fects of jet lag,’ ex­plains Dave Gib­son, Sleep Ex­pert at War­ren Evans bed­mak­ers (thesleep­site.co.uk). ‘And jet lag it­self has been shown to have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on our bod­ies.’

Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 study by the Royal So­ci­ety for Pub­lic Health, the av­er­age mil­len­nial now sleeps for around 6.8 hours a night. That’s the equiv­a­lent of one sleep­less night per week, which can lead to long-term prob­lems for our men­tal and phys­i­cal health – think ir­ri­tabil­ity, low moods and ag­gres­sion.

So­cial jet lag high­lights how im­por­tant it is to not only get enough sleep, but the im­por­tance of the right sleeping pat­tern – and the ef­fects of my late nights (ie Ru­paul’s Drag Race binges) could be worse than I think. But re­ally?

‘ Yes,’ in­sists Dave. ‘In the short term, so­cial jet lag can make you hun­grier and sleepier, and can lead to long-term is­sues like heart dis­ease and strokes.’

How­ever, with my so­cial diary still jam-packed and my work schedule ac­cel­er­at­ing, how can I com­bat it? ‘Try to wake up at the same time ev­ery day and avoid tech­nol­ogy an hour be­fore bed,’ he says. ‘But if you re­ally have to catch up on sleep on an ad-hoc ba­sis, it’s better to have a short nap on a week­day than to mess up your whole sleep cy­cle ev­ery weekend.’ All in all, it’s sim­ple: get more shut-eye. In the mean­time, I’m go­ing for a nap…

Usu­ally, I’ll sleep in til 12pm at the weekend

Swap In­sta-likes for an early night

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