Hectic schedules, strict work demands, and a busy social life can clash with your biological rhythms, resulting in what researchers are now calling social jetlag.
A new study published last week from LMU University in Munich, Germany, suggests that ignoring the 24-hour circadian clock -- in which sunlight helps regulate your body's natural rhythms -- to keep up with social and work demands, can result in health problems. The consequence? Chronic fatigue, reliance on caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes, and thicker waistlines - especially if you already have a natural tendency toward obesity.
Having to be at work early, working long hours indoors, social engagements after work, and running around to keep up with a modernized life is wreaking havoc on 80 percent of people in Western countries, says chronobiologist Professor Till Roenneberg, who coined the term social jetlag.
According to National Public Radio (NPR) in the US, you could also fall into the category of the socially jetlagged if your weekday work schedule differs significantly from your weekend schedule. Wake up early Monday through Friday but sleep late on weekends to refill the sleep tank? Roenneberg describes the effect as if you are switching time zones on the weekend.
While you can't likely change your working hours to support your natural rhythms (i.e., you'll likely have to rise well before the sun if you, say, live in Europe during the winter), the research does support at least getting enough zzzs, sticking to a more consistent sleep schedule throughout the week, and spending at least a little time each day in sunlight.
Certainly, not getting enough sleep can impact your weight, and there is a large body of scientific evidence to support that. The connection between poor sleep and higher body weights has been found in shift workers such as nurses, in mothers of infants, and even in toddlers and teenagers, notes NPR.