Social jet lag: is sleeping more on weekends bad for you? – 06/22/2022

If you try to compensate for sleep on your free days, know that this (almost) harmless attitude can harm your health. The phenomenon became known as social jet lag, that is, the body is altered when there is a considerable change in the sleep pattern during the week and on weekends. Something similar when a person travels for several hours by plane and faces different time zones.

It is quite tempting to wake up later on Saturday or Sunday, but this sudden change in schedule confuses the biological clock, that is, the circadian rhythm, which regulates metabolism. Thus, the body’s state of alertness, temperature and even the functioning of some important hormones, such as cortisol – known to be responsible for the release of stress, are altered.

“This discrepancy between social and biological schedules has been associated with several health problems. Not keeping regular sleep schedules causes metabolic dysfunctions and can even cause illness”, explains Li Li Min, a neurologist and professor in the Department of Neurology at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Unicamp (State University of Campinas).

How it harms health

The incompatibility between biological and social time (that is, the hours we work or study, for example) affects the amount of hours we have to sleep, which directly compromises the health and well-being of the organism.

The experts consulted by Live well point out that, in the long term, the social jet leg causes a lack of physical vigor, premature aging, decreased muscle tone and even compromised the immune system.

Below, see details on how turning off your alarm on weekends can be risky.

  • cognitive impairment
Man with forgotten face, memory, forgetfulness, mental confusion - iStock - iStock
Image: iStock

Irritability, difficulty making decisions, and impaired short-term memory. These are some symptoms of short-term social jet lag.

“Cognitive impairment does not occur only because of the rebound effect of sleep during the weekend, but because of the lack of regularity. The brain cannot follow a pattern and is altered. There is a decrease in alertness, changes in attention, concentration and reasoning” , completes Andrea Bacelar, neurologist and sleep doctor at ABSono (Brazilian Sleep Association).

Stress, cortisol, hot headed, woman - iStock - iStock
Image: iStock

Who never slept badly and woke up in a bad mood? However, maintaining irregular sleep during the week can increase anxiety and, in some cases, even depression. This is what a study carried out in the United Kingdom with more than 85 thousand people points out. The researchers showed that those who didn’t follow a bedtime schedule were more likely to have these problems.

“Research shows that long-term sleep deprivation contributes to emotional impairment and even the development of mental disorders”, says Cristina Salles, responsible for the Sleep Medicine Service at the Professor Edgard Santos University Hospital of UFBA (Federal University of Bahia). ).

  • Increases the risk of obesity and diabetes

Social jet lag has also been linked to excessive weight gain and the onset of diabetes. This irregularity in the schedule affects the production of hormones, causing inflammation in the body.

  • Physical symptoms and relationship problems

In addition, unregulated sleep brings physical symptoms such as tension and headache. They also increase the risk of accidents or errors at work. Not sleeping well also damages family relationships and alters libido.

Elderly, insomnia - Enes Evren/iStock - Enes Evren/iStock
Image: Enes Evren/iStock

Social jet lag also causes difficulty sleeping, as the body gets confused and doesn’t understand when it’s time to rest. And chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to many diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Therefore, it can become a very uncomfortable and harmful cycle.

  • Cardiovascular diseases

In addition to causing obesity, social jet lag messes with the release of hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. When produced in excess, they can harm the heart. In these cases, they change heart rhythms and blood pressure, which makes the person more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke (Cerebral Vascular Accident).

According to research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, every hour of social jet lag increases the likelihood of heart disease by 11%.

Who is most susceptible to the problem?

Both men and women are often affected by social jet lag. However, it is known that they end up sleeping a shorter total sleep time. This situation happens because women live a double (or even triple) journey, that is, most of the time, they work inside and outside the home, accumulating functions, which impairs the regularity of sleep.

“The person is chronically sleep deprived. Nocturnal chronotypes tend to have the problem more and suffer from the consequences of irregular hours. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to compensate for the sleep deficit during the weekends”, says Sandra Martinez, neurologist from the Sleep Scientific Department of ABN (Brazilian Association of Neurology).

It is known that morning people are more exposed to the sun, also sleep better and vary less in daily schedules. Because they have this more regimented routine, they are usually more willing and less tired.

What to do?

It’s important to maintain regular sleep schedules during the week and on weekends to prevent problems like social jet lag, but we know it’s not an easy task! Often, it is necessary to change the routine and establish priorities.

Sleep, man sleeping, young man, sleep, bed, nap - iStock - iStock
Image: iStock

Sleep hygiene is the term used to refer to behavioral measures that improve a person’s quality of sleep. “This includes a variety of habits and practices necessary for getting a good night’s sleep and daytime alertness. It’s critical to maintain a relaxing routine before bed, avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and excessive light stimulation before bedtime.” sleep”, recommends Salles.

The expert points out that nighttime exposure to blue light emitted by screens is capable of modifying the circadian rhythm and disrupting sleep quality. Therefore, the widespread use of portable electronic devices, such as cell phones, is quite harmful for those who want to sleep better.

Other recommendations to avoid social jet lag:

  • Sunbathe regularly;
  • Practice physical activity frequently;
  • Sleep about 7 hours a night and go to bed and get up at the same time every time;
  • Avoid afternoon naps;
  • Do not drink alcohol and/or caffeinated beverages about 6 hours before going to bed;
  • Take a warm bath before bed;
  • Do some relaxing activity at night;
  • Get in the habit of writing down your worries and commitments for the next day.

“If none of this resolves, avoid self-medication. This exacerbates the risks of sleep deprivation. It is worth looking for a specialist to seek more appropriate strategies to sleep better”, concludes Bacelar.

About Jenni Smith

She's our PC girl, so anything is up to her. She is also responsible for the videos of Play Crazy Game, as well as giving a leg in the news.

Check Also

Curitiba registers first suspected case of monkeypox

Curitiba records the first suspected case of smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. The case, …