March 30, 2023
Sleep problems

Why you might reconsider your sleep schedule

  • May 15, 2012
  • 3 min read
Why you might reconsider your sleep schedule

Scientists specializing in studying human sleeping habits may have found a link between sleep
schedules and obesity, states a report from WebMD and other news outlets. Specifically, the
scientists at the University of Munich’s Institute of Psychology have coined a term called “social
jet lag” which refers to the incongruity between your sleep schedule during the week and the
weekend. The scientists in Berlin, Germany claim that people who try to compensate for their
lack of sleep during the work week by sleeping in late during the weekend might pose a health
risk. This “social jet lag”—the difference in sleeping patterns throughout the week—might make
the difference in a person’s chance of unhealthy weight gain.

How does it happen?
Social jet lag might best be described through an example. Say you work a typical eight hour
workday, one that requires you to wake up around 6AM or so every morning during a typical
week. Because you wake up at 6AM during most mornings, your circadian rhythms might align
with a natural sleeping pattern designed around waking up at such an early time. Even though
you might not like it, you’re more accustomed to waking up at that time than any other time. But
when the weekend rolls around, you relish the opportunity to sleep in later, maybe until 8, 9, or
10AM. The discrepancy between those two general wakeup times—weekdays and weekend
mornings—can take a toll on your body because it just wants a regular sleeping schedule.

Switching around your wakeup times can put a great deal of stress on the body.
In other words, the sudden shift in your sleeping habits is equitable to sleeping in a different time
zone: your body suddenly struggles to stick to its circadian rhythms, and this takes a toll on
various systems in a body. Under the sleep-induced strain, your body can’t perform normal
metabolic functions as well as when it’s properly rested. Thus, the stress induced by your body
from oversleeping (or underseelping) could lead you to gain weight over a period of time.

Social jet lag is a common practice
Perhaps the biggest problem with social jet lag is that it’s a nearly ubiquitous phenomenon, at
least in the US. How many times have you said or heard someone else say that they’re looking
forward to the weekend to “catch up on some sleep?” Sleeping in late on the weekends is
practically a cultural pastime for people in the US, particularly among people who work night
shifts, keep long hours, or stay out late at night. If the social jet lag theory proves true, that could
mean serious trouble for the health of millions of Americans, and just one more factor in the
ongoing obesity epidemic plaguing the country.

What about you?

Do you think that you might be suffering from social jet lag? Would you be willing to sleep in
less during the weekend if it meant maintaining a healthy weight? Let me know in the comments

About the author:
Amelia Wood contributed this guest post. She pursues freelance writing projects in the medical
billing and coding online niche. She especially loves hearing back from her readers. Questions or
comments can be sent to wood. amelia1612 @

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