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“Social Jet Lag” Is A Thing And It’s Harming Your Health

Update Date: Jun 10, 2017 09:00 AM EDT

According to a recent study published in Sleep, "social jet lag" is negatively affecting our health.

Social jet lag is a new term that describes what happens when people wake up and go to sleep later on the weekends than they do on workdays.

Senior author Michael A. Grander, Ph.D, compiled his research by examining the data from 984 adults between the ages of 22 and 60 years old. The data for the study were collected as part of the Sleep and Healthy Activity, Diet, Environment, and Socialization study - a community-based survey of more than 1,000 adults.  

Using the Sleep Timing Questionnaire, Dr. Grandner and his colleagues evaluated each participant's social jet lag. The researchers also assessed insomnia.

Participants were asked to report their overall health using a standard scale, with the options "Excellent," "Good," and "Fair/Poor." Dr. Grandner also checked his participants for fatigue, depression, and sleepiness.

The results of the study showed links between social jet lag and sleepiness, worse mood, fatigue, and poorer overall health.

With each hour of social jet lag, researchers found an 11.1 percent increase in the probability of developing heart disease. In addition, each hour of social jet lag was associated with a 22.1 and 28.3 percent increase in patients having just "good" or "fair/poor" health.

"These results indicate that sleep regularity, beyond sleep duration alone, plays a significant role in our health," lead author Sierra B. Forbush, an undergraduate research assistant in the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, noted. "This suggests that a regular sleep schedule may be an effective, relatively simple, and inexpensive preventative treatment for heart disease as well as many other health problems."

According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), adults should sleep for at least seven hours each night for "optimal health." 

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