Social jet lag is just like jet lag, except you haven't travelled anywhere.
Basically, you feel the negative effects of jet lag while remaining in the same time zone because your chronotype's circadian rhythm (which determines the time when you naturally go to bed) does not align well with societal norms and expectations. Living out of step with societal 9-to-5 norms makes it more challenging for some people to socialize (often morning larks) or to work (often night owls).
Morning larks go to sleep earlier than others, and the most extreme may find it challenging to stay up past 7:00 pm. For night owls, however, the issue is more critical because their sleep patterns are often at odds with when they are obligated to be at work. This leads to situations that increase night owls' health risks, relating to sleep deprivation or to forgoing sleep at times when they would, otherwise, naturally be asleep.
What can be done?
Here are three things that you can do when faced with social jet lag:
1) Advocate for greater flexibility in work hours to accommodate the diversity of chronotypes;
2) Seek greater alignment between your work schedule and chronotype;
3) Although not ideal, if options 1 and 2 have not yet led to workplace recognition of chronotype diversity or if the severity of one’s issue does not warrant disability accommodations, then one must learn to align one's sleep better to the 9-to-5 world by advancing one's bedtimes, often by means of light exposure in the mornings, avoiding light in the evenings, and adopting various lifestyle changes (e.g., adjusting mealtimes). This means adhering to a consistent sleep schedule, practicing exceptional sleep hygiene, and ensuring that the sleep environment, (e.g., lights, bedroom temperature, and beds) are optimized for sleep.
Are you a night owl, experiencing social jet lag, and would you like to know how to manage it well? Sign up for a discovery consultation.