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…
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