sleep guide


What is Social Jet Lag and How to Manage It

What is Social Jet Lag and How to Manage It

How Our Modern Lifestyle Can Disrupt the Body’s Internal Clock

In today’s fast paced world, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities, from work and family commitments to social engagements and personal interests. In the midst of the whirlwind, our bodies are constantly trying to keep up with the demands of our schedules. However, what most people may not realize is that our modern lifestyles can wreak havoc on our bodies’ internal clocks, leading to a phenomenon known as social jet lag.

Social jet lag is a term used to describe the misalignment between our body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and the external demands of our daily schedules. While jet lag typically refers to the disruption of our internal clocks caused by traveling across time zones, social jet lag is caused by irregular sleep patterns and inconsistent schedules in our everyday lives. 

What causes social jet lag?

Several factors can contribute to social jet lag, including:

  • Inconsistent sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at different times throughout the week whether due to social commitments, family needs, illness or revenge bedtime procrastination can throw off our body’s internal clock, leading to feelings of fatigue and grogginess.
  • Irregular work schedule: Working irregular hours, such as night shifts or rotating shifts, can disrupt our circadian rhythm and make it difficult for our bodies to adjust to a consistent sleep-wake cycle.
  • Late screen time: Exposure to artificial light from electronic devices before bedtime, such as smartphones and computers, can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
  • Weekend oversleeping: Many people try to catch up on lost sleep over the weekend by sleeping in late, but this can further disrupt our internal clocks and contribute to feelings of jet lag come Monday morning.

What effects does social jet lag have on our bodies?

The effects of social jet lag can be far-reaching and impact various aspects of our health and well-being, including symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and low energy levels: Constantly feeling tired and lethargic, even after a full night’s sleep, is a common symptom of social jet lag.
  • Poor cognitive function: Disrupted sleep patterns can impair our ability to think clearly, concentrate and make decisions.
  • Mood disturbances: Social jet lag has been linked to increased risk of depression, anxiety and irritability.
  • Metabolic disturbances: Irregular sleep patterns can disrupt our body’s metabolism, leading to weight gain and an increased risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.

How can I manage social jet lag?

While social jet lag can be challenging to overcome, there are steps we can take to minimize its effects and improve our overall sleep quality:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, can help regulate our body’s internal clock. If you need to catch up on sleep consider some power naps in the middle of the day rather than sleeping late in the morning.
  • For those with shift work, try to avoid large shifts in your sleep during the transition between work and rest days when possible (for example, night workers can stay on a later sleep schedule on days off). Social responsibilities, such as childcare may impact sleep-wake schedules and make this more difficult to maintain.
  • Limit exposure to screens before bedtime: Avoiding electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime can help promote the production of melatonin and improve sleep quality.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Engaging in calming activities, such as reading or taking a warm bath, can signal to our bodies that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
  • Add in melatonin: Consider adding a drug-free sleep supplement such as melatonin to help regulate and promote a more consistent sleep schedule.

In today’s society, social jet lag has become a prevalent issue affecting millions of people across the nation. By understanding the causes and effects of social jet lag and implementing healthy sleep habits, we can take proactive steps to minimize its impact on our health and well-being. By prioritizing consistent sleep schedules, we can ensure our body’s internal clock stays in sync with the demands of our busy lives, allowing us to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.

For more background on this blog post, check out Natrol’s Scientific Advisory Board web page, complete with the notable individuals and sleep experts helping our brand to further understand and meet best industry standards.

Product Callout

Sleep is inherently related to your mood & stress.


Keep Reading

Dr. Jessica Andrade
sleep guide


Sleep Expert Dr. Jess Andrade’s Tips for Better Sleep

Dr. Jess Andrade is a board-certified physician with a special interest in sleep health. And now she is sharing with Natrol her top tips for getting better sleep.