New Study: Social Jet Lag Increases the Risk of Heart Disease

Getting sufficient quality sleep every night is essential for proper functioning of the human brain and regulating some of the body’s processes. That is why experts recommend that you sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours daily. But not all people follow this simple advice that is very important for their overall health and wellbeing. If you constantly find yourself sleeping more (for longer hours) during the weekends because you didn’t get enough sleep during the week, medical experts have bad news for you.

You probably already know that sleep deprivation is not good for your health. Some of the adverse effects of repeated sleep deprivation include lack of concentration, fatigue, weakened immune system, depression and anxiety among others. But that is not all. Every hour of social jet lag increases your risk of heart disease by more than 11%.

‘Social jet lag’ is a phrase that refers to going to bed and waking up later on weekends than you do during the week. Most people are guilty of social jet lag (which comes mostly as a result of social commitments). We look forward to Saturdays and Sundays because we get to relax and unwind. That includes catching up with friends, going to parties, watching movies and spending time with family. While doing all the above is not bad, intentionally sleeping and waking up late simply because it’s a weekend is something can have adverse effects on your cardiovascular system.

Recent research published in the academic journal SLEEP found that just one extra hour of sleep during the weekends increases the risk of heart disease by 11.1%. The study also links social jet lag to several other health problems including diabetes, bad mood, fatigue, obesity and poorer overall health. The research, which was led by Michael A. Grandner, the senior author and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, analyzed the survey responses (on health and sleep patterns) of 984 adults between the ages of 22 and 60. The new findings have also been presented at the SLEEP 2017 conference in Boston.

The verdict

One thing is very clear from this study: you cannot compensate for the loss of sleep during the week by sleeping for longer hours during the weekends. Doing so only increases your risk of heart disease and several other health problems.

So, what is the way forward? Experts recommend that you stick to your normal sleeping schedule throughout the week (including weekends); that is, going to bed and waking up around the same time, and ensuring that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.