Social Jet Lag: Is Starting Work Later Helpful?
written by/ March 3, 2022
As Benjamin Franklin once said, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. How true is this though? A huge new study says it’s more complicated than that.
The pandemic lockdowns, flexible working hours, and other similar arrangements many experienced in 2020 made scientists realize that far more people have been suffering from a Social Jet Lag (SJL) than they thought.
The greater the difference between the timing of everyday activities and their natural chronotype, the greater the social jet lag. People with SJL are always compensating for their lost sleep during weekends.
We’ve known so far that the socially acceptable nine-to-five working schedule is especially discriminating to people with night-oriented circadian rhythms (the so-called night owls), and benefiting early risers.
However, no one expected that a staggering 46% of the survey respondents would report reducing their SJL by waking up and going to sleep later. What’s more, we’re talking about 15,000 adult respondents from around 14 countries.
On the other hand, only 20% of them claim that the pandemic circumstances increased their SJL. However, this doesn’t mean that people slept better.
For some, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic was enough to turn them into corona somniacs. Hence, countless individuals have turned to various sleep-improvement methods to manage stress levels before sleep, or to counter insomnia after returning to their offices.
The study, published in the Nature And Science Of Sleep journal is another wake-up call for researchers to determine the possible public health benefits of work hours that accommodate different circadian rhythms.
As the Science Focus article points out, it’s time for our attention to shift from where to when we should work. Also, more studies are needed to assess and compare the productivity of workers that don’t suffer from SJL.