As much fun as it is to have a lazy Sunday after snoozing until late afternoon, your weekend habit of sleeping in isn’t doing you any favours.
You can blame social jetlag. It works just like regular old jetlag, only it happens when our body clocks get thrown off by the gap between our weekend and weekday sleep schedules.
Luckily, there are ways to fix it. Here’s how you can make sure your body clock stays on a more normal schedule:
1. Wake up at the same time every day.
Yes, it’s hard, because there’s no real reason to keep waking up at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. But staying in the groove is important. Frank Scheer, a professor at Harvard Medical School told Science News he has virtually no social jet lag thanks to early morning wake-ups from his kids.
Even making sure you’re waking up a few hours within when you usually wake up during the week would be a lot better than waking up at 2 p.m. Think about it this way: The jet lag from a New York-to-Chicago flight isn’t nearly as bad as a flight from New York to San Francisco.
2. Pick a job that lets you be outside in the sunlight — or make sure your office has good natural light
Like our ancestors, our bodies evolved to be awake when it’s light out and asleep when it’s dark. Dim offices with artificial light can mess up that cycle and trick our bodies into thinking it’s later than it is. To fix this, find a way to get as much natural light as possible during the day by sitting by a window or taking walks outside throughout the day.
No, not this kind of jet lag.
3. Expose yourself to sunlight in the early morning
Leaving for work before the sun has risen and you coming home after it sets can make you feel as if you’re nocturnal. The more sunlight you get in the morning, the earlier your central clock will want to get up. By retraining this part of the body, the chances of getting social jet lag go down.
4. Steer clear of bright screens right before bed
As much fun as it is to scroll through social media before snoozing, the light our smartphones and computer screens emit confuses our body clocks because they wans to keep running as if it’s still day time.
Instead of powering your body down, the light causes you to be more alert and ready to keep on going — even if it’s way past your designated bedtime. So while those late-night Netflix binge sessions seem like a great idea for a relaxing Friday, it’s best to switch off screens at least an hour you plan to go to sleep.
What all this boils down to keeping an eye on how you time your exposure to sunlight and sticking with a regular schedule. The more sunlight you get during “natural” waking hours, the earlier your body clock will be set. Having a regular wake-up and bedtime should help you avoid as much social jetlag as possible.
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