Are you constantly struggling to get back on your sleep schedule during the work week just to be thrown off every weekend?
Well, you’re not alone. Nearly half of American adults experience something called “social jet lag” from sleep deprivation bouncing between work and weekend schedules.
Social jet lag is the inconsistency between a person’s body clock, which is determined by circadian rhythms, and their social clock, which is set by obligations such as work, school and social activities.
A study published on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open is the first to separately analyze sleep patterns between workdays and non-work days. Researchers analyzed sleep data from over 9,000 Americans aged 20 years and older from 2017 to 2020 to find sleep habits and disturbances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports every adult should be tucking themselves in for at least seven hours a night, but it appears that many Americans are not getting that — and even if they are, it’s not consistent.
Researchers analyzed sleep data from over 9,000 Americans aged 20 years and older from 2017 to 2020 to find sleep habits and disturbances.
Hongkun, Di MD, et al / JAMA
Over 46% of participants of the JAMA study reported at least one hour of social jet lag, while 19.3% experienced at least two hours. Social jet lag is calculated by finding the difference between the midpoint between sleep and wake time on workdays and non-workdays.
“The timing of your sleep on workdays is the societal and work constraints, but the timing of your sleep on free days is what your body clock really wants you to do,” Dr. Elizabeth Klerman, a Harvard professor of neurology who was not associated with the study, told CNN.
The sleep deprivation caused by the misalignment of body and social clocks impacts everything from mental to physical health, which impedes your efficiency during workdays.
“It’s like you’re living in a state of jet lag during the workweek,” Dr. Klerman said.
Earlier research has shown that social jet lag has been associated with higher risks for depression, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems prompting scientists to suggest additional studies be conducted.
Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of a good night’s rest, but it’s not just about hitting the sack. Almost 30% of respondents complained they had trouble falling or staying asleep and about 27% were very sleepy during the day.
To make up for that, one out of every three hybrid workers owned up to taking naps while working from home with 74% admitting they nap once a week if not more, a report from Harmony Healthcare found.
The majority (30%) of workers snuck away to doze off for 30 to 40 minutes, but a few (18%) were able to get away with snoozing for an hour or more.
While social jet lag can be an issue year round, the recent switch to daylight savings time can also affect it.
The Senate unanimously approved a bill in March to make daylight savings time permanent. But sleep experts say standard time is better for human circadian biology and they are urging lawmakers to ditch it for good.