Social jet lag

Social jet lag describes the discrepancy between biological time (the body's internal clock) and the time itself in the surroundings one finds oneself in. In our modern world, around 30% of the population experience social jet lag and it can extend over several years. The large number of people with social jet lag can become a burden on public health. Social jet lag can be described as a circadian rhythm disorder and often results in chaotic sleep and waking patterns​.


Symptoms of social jet lag
The term "jet lag" itself was originally used to describe the symptoms travellers experience in connection with flying across many time zones too quickly. When travellers have to adapt to a new time zone, they often experience, among other things, fatigue, stomach problems, difficulty concentrating and sleep problems.

The symptoms of social jet lag are typically severe sleepiness in the morning, daytime fatigue, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty concentrating, irritability and depression.

People with social jet lag typically have two distinct and separate sleep patterns. Social jet lag often occurs when you have a sleeping pattern for weekdays and a sleeping pattern for weekends. Social jet lag can also occur when you have a sleep deficit that you are trying to catch up on. The sleep deficit may have arisen in connection with night work, a late party, nocturnal events, or a sleep deficit that has accumulated over the week.

Social jet lag can cause sleep and cognitive disturbances on a daily basis. If the body is exposed to social jet lag for a long time, there is a risk that the condition will become chronic and develop into other health problems.

Social jet lag can, in the long term, lead to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, depression and sleep disorders.

Social jet lag and sleep
It is known that light entering the retina of the eye affects the circadian rhythm, which is controlled by the brain's "internal clock". Light causes the "internal clock" to suppress the body's production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.

People who live according to a normal circadian rhythm are awake during the day and asleep at night.

People who have social jet lag typically need a week to return to the normal circadian rhythm.

Social jet lag and sleep glasses
A combination of sleep glasses and possible light therapy can help people with social jet lag to regulate their circadian rhythm and sleep pattern so that they get a good night's sleep and can feel refreshed and well-prepared for the next morning.

Basically, use light therapy every morning, seven days a week.

In the evening, you wear sleep glasses for 1-2 hours before you want to sleep. Here you must try to adjust the time you wear the sleep glasses. If you fall asleep too quickly compared to the planned time for falling asleep, you must minimise the time you wear the sleep glasses.

The same situation applies if you cannot fall asleep even if you have worn sleep glasses. In that case you have to increase the time you wear the sleep glasses.

Research regarding social jet lag

Below are a number of summaries/abstracts of scientific trials dealing with social jet lag. The abstracts originate from medical records (copyright).