July 21, 2015

How your sleep habits are making you tired


What’s your chronotype? In this audio interview, a Vanderbilt professor explains “social jet lag” and the importance of keeping consistent sleep habits


For many, long summer days mean late weekend nights. If you’re a weekend sleep warrior, you’re likely suffering from social jet lag.

Kelly Brown, M.D., a specialist at the Vanderbilt Sleep Center, explains how many Tennesseans travel across several time zones every weekend … just by sleeping in late.


What causes everyday or social jet lag?

Brown: Social jet lag is a term that has been coined to describe the habits of people who stay up late over the weekend and then sleep in late on the weekend, and it’s called social jet lag because it is similar to traveling several time zones each weekend. So, shifting your time of waking and time of sleep by several hours is like traveling over several time zones every weekend.

Is it true that all of us have a chronotype? And if we do, what are the different chronotypes possible?

Brown: A chronotype refers to a person’s preference to be a morning person or an evening person, and most people do have a general preference to be a little bit more of a morning person or an evening person. But in some people this can be very extreme, and they can stay up very late at night and sleep in very late — or the opposite.

Can the brain be affected by the social jet lag at all?

Brown: Yes, the biggest problem with altering your schedule drastically on the weekend is that when you have to get up Monday morning for work, particularly if you slept in pretty late over the weekend, it can be very hard to wake up. You can have difficulty with attention and vigilance. You can have more errors on the work site, and it also affects your body. There have been various studies published about social jet lag, and it has been noted that obesity is very prevalent in people who tend to sleep in later over the weekend, and it turns out that the later you sleep in, the more obese you would likely be. Also, people who altered their schedule by more than an hour or two on the weekend are more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and use excessive caffeine, and they are also more likely to be depressed.

Tired of social jet lag? Visit the Vanderbilt Sleep Center to schedule a sleep assessment.


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