While trying to catch up on sleep on the weekend sounds innocent enough, it actually can be detrimental to your circadian rhythm, which needs regularity. Studies show that social jet lag is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression. These effects are not erased by getting more sleep over the weekend because we need adequate sleep each night to properly regulate mental and physical functions.
Think about the transition to and from daylight saving time and how you are affected by a one-hour time change. If you are varying your weekend schedule by more than an hour, you’re making it that much harder to adjust to your weekday schedule.
Social jet lag plays a role in the ongoing discussion of school start times. A proposed later schedule for teens is meant to better align with their natural circadian rhythm while also allowing for a more consistent schedule throughout the week. A University of Washington study of high school students found that those with a later school start time (8:45 am versus 7:50 am) showed less variation between their weekday and weekend sleep times, thus decreasing their social jet lag and making it easier to make it to Monday morning class.
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