Jet lag isn’t exclusive to long-distance travel. Rather, the phenomenon is characterized by the change in our sleep/wake cycle. Similar to how jet lag is often caused by a change in sleep pattern due to different time zones, social jet lag is caused by a change in sleep pattern as a result of having different sleep schedules throughout the week. This is particularly common when many of us spend the weekends catching up on sleep or any activity that we haven’t got around to on weekdays.
While such a shift allows you to fulfill your agenda, it can be harmful to your health and productivity in the long run. Expert agrees that it’s not all easy to convince yourself to get in and out of bed early on weekends, but here are 5 things you can try to make it less challenging.
1. Plan your weekend activities strategically
The fundamental idea behind fighting social jet lag is that you need to have the same sleep schedule for every day of the week. This means going to bed and waking up on weekends at the same time as you would on weekdays. “But what about the night-time pub crawl? What if my friends think I’m anti-social?” you may ask.
On one hand, it’s important to remember that sleep is so vital to your everyday functioning that social gratification is hardly worth sacrificing your bedtime. On the other hand, you can still maintain a regular sleep schedule without missing out on the social aspect of your life by planning get-togethers for daytime and saving night-time for unwinding and recharging your energy. This approach will help you establish a healthier sleep habit, eliminating the need for oversleeping to catch up on lost sleep the day after. Not enough sleep is harmful, but oversleeping is just as bad.
2. Keep it moderate
It requires a lot of willpower to just call it a day and tuck yourself in while friends are still blowing up your phone with photos of their tipsy selves. After a long week of putting your social life on hold and neglecting your hobbies in the name of work, it’s only reasonable that you feel like giving in to temptation and letting your hair down. Be mindful and keep it moderate. Establish a curfew for night-time get-togethers; wrap up at 11pm instead of 2am. If you want to stay longer, make it a rare occasion instead of a weekend routine.
3. Negotiate a flexible work schedule if you can
If you’re a night owl, you may be more productive at night. In a perfect world, you can work when you feel like and stop when you feel tired. But in reality, your sleep pattern is heavily dictated by work schedule. It’s simply hard to maintain a healthy sleep/wake cycle when productivity peaks in the evening yet work starts early in the morning. If you’re anything like me, the temptation to stay up and work late into the night is strong. In this case, flexible work hours help tremendously.
Where I currently work, employees can negotiate flexible work hours within a 2-hour window. The standard working hours are from 9 to 5, but employees can start and finish earlier or later by 2 hours. This flexibility has allowed me to develop and stick to a more regular sleep pattern throughout the week. Your employer may or may not offer the same type of flexibility, but it never hurts to ask.
4. Start your weekends by being active
If you’re tempted to sleep in, make exercise your weekend morning routine. Start exercising at the same time as you would normally wake up and get ready for work. Yoga is a great option if you haven’t already tried it. Few things are more invigorating and refreshing than yoga in the morning. Such a way to start a day not only helps improve your sleep routine and fight social jet lag, it also benefits your mental health. Go one step further by booking yourself in to a morning yoga session. Once all has been booked and paid for, your conscience won’t stop nagging until you get yourself out of bed and ready for a deep stretch. Starting your day with an exercise routine will also boost your energy and get you primed for an exciting day ahead.
5. Start your weekends with what you love
If you’re not a fan of morning fitness, forcing yourself out of bed for a stretch may not sound so appealing. Start the day by doing what you love instead. This has worked particularly well for me. I have made painting, the most favorite and serious interest of mine, my Sunday morning routine. On Sunday mornings, I would wake up, get out of bed, have a glass of water and start working at it for an hour or so.
Waking up to what you’re passionate about is the perfect way to keep yourself motivated while establishing a better sleep pattern for a healthier you.
I’m a young professional with freelance writing as a side hustle. I have a degree in Marketing with a major focus on Consumer Research. My writing covers various topics that I like including lifestyle, travel and opinion pieces. Painting, gaming, travelling and reading are among my favorite pastimes. I’m not always productive but so long as I enjoy the way I spend my time, I consider myself happy.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.