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Social Jet Lag | What it is, who suffers from it and how to fight it even with an ergonomic pillow

Social Jet Lag | What it is, who suffers from it and how to fight it even with an ergonomic pillow

Social jet lag is a relatively new term in the field of chronobiology, but it is gaining more and more attention due to its relevance to health and well-being. Unlike classic jet lag, which is caused by the rapid change of time zones during air travel, social jet lag refers to the discrepancy between our internal biological clock and our social time, i.e. the times when we need to wake up, work or study.

What is Social Jet Lag?

The term "social jet lag" was coined to describe the imbalance that occurs when our internal biological clock is out of alignment with the rhythms of society. In other words, it is the difference between the time our body would like to sleep and the time we have to wake up due to our social and work responsibilities. This phenomenon was studied by Prof. Till Roenneberg , who demonstrated how social jet lag can have negative effects on mental and physical health.

Who Suffers From It?

Social jet lag can affect anyone, but there are groups that are particularly vulnerable. Between these:

  1. Adolescents and Young Adults : Due to biological changes during adolescence, many young people tend to become "night owls," preferring to go to bed late and wake up late. However, school schedules often require waking up early, creating a significant mismatch between their biological clock and their social clock.
  2. Shift workers : Those who work irregular or night shifts may experience severe social jet lag, as their work schedules do not follow a regular pattern and often do not coincide with the natural sleep-wake cycle.
  3. Individuals with flexible social commitments : Even those with flexible work commitments can suffer from social jet lag, especially if they tend to delay their bedtime and wake up at different times.

Consequences of social jet lag

The consequences of social jet lag are multiple and can affect different aspects of our lives. Among the main negative effects we find:

  • Sleep disorders : A constant dissonance between our biological and social clocks can lead to insomnia, difficulty maintaining sleep, even if it is of poor quality.
  • Impact on mental health : Lack of sleep and associated stress can contribute to anxiety, depression and irritability.
  • Physical problems : Social jet lag has been associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, possibly due to altered circadian rhythms and metabolism.
  • Decreased performance : The dissonance between our sleep-wake cycle and social schedules can reduce our ability to concentrate, memory and productivity.

Remedies and solutions

Addressing social jet lag requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes changes in lifestyle, work organization and sleep environment. Here are some of the most effective remedies:

  1. Regular sleep routine : Establishing a regular sleep routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, can help synchronize your body clock with social schedules.
  2. Exposure to natural light : Natural light is a powerful synchronizer of our biological clock. Spending time outdoors during the day and reducing exposure to artificial light in the evening can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
  3. Caring for your sleep environment : Creating a sleep-friendly environment, with a dark, quiet and cool bedroom, can improve sleep quality and reduce social jet lag.
  4. Rely on the right supports : Sleeping with a suitable ergonomic pillow makes all the difference in the world, you avoid waking up during the night with neck pain.
  5. Flexibility in Work Schedules : Companies that offer flexible work schedules or remote work policies can help employees reduce the discrepancy between their biological and social clocks.
  6. Relaxation Techniques : Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga or breathing exercises can help reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep.
  7. Sleep Tracking : Using devices or apps to monitor sleep patterns can help identify specific problems and find personalized solutions.

Social jet lag is a growing problem in modern society, where increasingly intense and frenetic work and social demands often do not coincide with our natural biological rhythms. Recognizing the importance of this phenomenon and adopting strategies to mitigate its effects is fundamental to improving overall well-being. With increased awareness and the implementation of healthy practices, you can reduce the impact of social jet lag and live a more balanced and healthy life.