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Social Jet Lag: Is Starting Work Later Helpful?

written by / March 3, 2022
Social Jet Lag: Is Starting Work Later Helpful?

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.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”

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