Researchers in Germany have coined the term “social jet lag” to describe the discrepancy between our biological clocks and the modern demands on our time. Keeping pace in society sometimes requires working indoors before dawn and late at night - practices that evolution does not equip us for. Not only does this discrepancy cost us sleep, but the research team found that it also contributes to obesity. The team of investigators, which is compiling a worldwide data-base on human sleeping and waking patterns, has found that people with the most severe social jet lag are more likely to be overweight, more likely to smoke, and tend to drink more alcohol and caffeine than their peers with more balanced schedules. We can’t reset our biological clocks because we can’t fight Mother Nature, but to help overcome social jet lag, the investigators advise spending more time outdoors during daylight hours or at least sitting by a window. And they note that if you need an alarm to wake up, you’re not getting enough sleep and are likely to be tired during the day. The team plans to use the data it has compiled to create a worldwide sleep map. The study was published online May 10, 2012 in Current Biology.
Response: Sleep, Presence and PosturePeople often tell me they “slept wrong”, waking up to a painful neck or shoulder. Others, wanting my opinion about pillows, mattress firmness and sleeping positions ask, “how should I sleep?” In general, my response to questions about sleep is this: how we sleep depends on how we live—what we’re doing ...