Lots of us are pretty good about getting to bed early enough during the week to get a solid night’s sleep, but when the weekend arrives, our social lives win out over bedtimes. With drinks, dinners, and fun to be had, we just don’t prioritize our bedtime on Friday and Saturday nights and that can lead to something called “social jet lag.”
It sounds like something that happens when you spend too much time socializing on a given day, but it’s actually about sleep. “Social jet lag is when a person follows a different sleep schedule during the weekends and then ends up tired and dragged for work on Monday,” explains sleep, nutrition, and diet expert Dr. Carolyn Dean.
So this is something many people are experiencing and the symptoms of social jet lag are similar to travel jet lag and include sleepiness, irritability, and even some disorientation. The big difference between the two jet lags is light: when you travel your body can reset its own clock to match the different times the sun comes up and sets, but with social jet lag, it’s almost like you’re constantly traveling and your biological clock can’t catch up.
But we’re not going to give up our weekends filled with social activities that may keep us out past our weeknight bedtime, so how do we get back on track? Dr. Dean says the key is to spend some time outdoors. She advises resetting the sleep-wake pattern by standing outside, facing the sun - with your eyes protected and wearing sunscreen, of course - for 10 to 15 minutes to get a healthy dose of sunlight. This should reset your nighttime melatonin and keep you from feeling sleepy during the day.