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You’re young, here in the mountains for the first time, and are having the time of your life! You head out with friends after work—everybody does—and seem to do that 4-6 nights a week. It’s hard sometimes to get up for work, but you manage, and try to sleep a bit more on your days off. Social jetlag? What’s that?
The weird thing is, although you’re often only eating 1-2 meals a day, you’re gaining weight. Maybe it’s the alcohol, but you’re not drinking anymore than anyone else is!
Maybe it’s the chicken wings or the pizza you eat at the end of the night. But you’ve got to eat, right?
Sometimes though, it’s really hard to get through the day. You know you’re drinking more coffee and Monster Energy drinks, but you couldn’t make it through work if you didn’t!
On the nights you do stay home, you want to sleep but it’s impossible with roommates who come in at 4:00 in the morning! And since you’re often up until that time too, it’s hard to fall asleep earlier.
Social jetlag is what I just described above. That happens when you sacrifice your sleep for your social life. It may feel like you’re only young once, but what you’re doing is having a big impact on your health!
The Centre for Sleep and Human Performance here in Alberta has found that when you disrupt your sleep, you tend to seek out high calorie foods. Staying up until the wee hours of the night over time affects your metabolism and hormones though even if you don’t eat any food.
Studies have shown though that social jet lag and unhealthy behaviours like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, consuming caffeine, and eating high calorie foods seem to go hand-in-hand.
Another obvious consequence is that you’re not as alert and sharp when you need to be—i.e. when at work or driving a car. Been making a few more mistakes at work?
Working shift work is hard I know. It impacts how much time you can spend with friends. If you just stayed home whenever you worked an evening or over-night shift, you’d never get to see anyone!
It does make it harder to adjust though doesn’t it when you have to get up at different times of the day.
The truth is your circadian clock can’t handle late night socializing-even though you’re young! We all have an internal clock that’s regulated by what’s happening outside with sunlight and darkness. When you continually burn the candle at both ends, you’re increasing the chances of getting burned by weight gain, depression, stroke, and heart disease.
There are several things you can do to get more restful sleep. Look at these blogs for ideas: