Didn’t get enough sleep this week? No worries, you think to yourself: You’ll make it up this weekend. No alarms, no problem? But hitting snooze on your alarm clock and waking up at noon on Saturday and Sunday could be a recipe for disaster — especially if you have a 9 to 5 routine during the week. That’s at least according to several recent studies. The findings explore a fairly new concept that’s been getting more attention recently called “social jetlag.” The phenomenon 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. Aside from simply cutting back on our shut-eye, social jetlag has been linked with some pretty unwelcoming health effects. Consequences can range from a bad mood and trouble paying attention to obesity and higher body mass index.
Luckily, there are ways to fix it. And the biggest one is really simple:
Wake up at around the same time every day!
The newest study found even more connections between social jetlag and health, including lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and higher body mass index in people exposed to more social jetlag. These findings persisted even after the researchers accounted for outside factors like people’s exercise and eating and drinking habits.
For their study, researchers studied close to 450 men and women between ages 30 and 54 by having them wear sleep-tracking devices for a week.
The vast majority of them — roughly 85% — woke up and went to bed later on non-working days than they did on working days.
The findings were pretty striking: The bigger the gap between people’s sleep schedules on days when they worked and days when they didn’t, the stronger the negative findings on factors related to metabolism like body mass index and cholesterol.
And while the latest study was too short to prove that these particular effects are long-lasting, plenty of other research backs up the idea that the gap between our workweek and weekend schedules isn’t doing us any favors.
So do yourself a favor this weekend and set an alarm for a reasonable hour. Your body will say thank you.
Having trouble getting to sleep? Here are a few tips to help you rest better at night:
Leave your phone and tablets out of bed with you.
Stick to a schedule. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time helps your natural sleep cycle and you’ll get drowsy and wake naturally at the same times every day.
Exercising at least 20 minutes a day will help you sleep better at night.
Try not to nap. Taking a nap during the day can exacerbate insomnia.
Put lavender by your bed. The scent of lavender can be relaxing and help you fall asleep.