Do you have social jet lag? Why your body clock might be out of whack at this time of year – and how to fix it

At this time of year, after the Christmas holidays and the festivities that come with the holiday, it’s natural to feel a little lethargic and depleted in energy.

But it might not just be tiredness from all the partying you’re experiencing. In fact, you might have social jet lag.

‘Social jet lag occurs when our internal biological clock gets out of rhythm with the external environment,’ Australian sleep expert and member of the Sleep Health Foundation, Dr Carmel Harrington, told Daily Mail Australia.

Here, Dr Harrington reveals just why social jet lag is rife at this time of year – and how you can get your body clock back in sync.

According to Dr Harrington, the reason why you’re feeling so whacked at this time of year is because of regular bedtimes being thrown out of the window:

‘Most of us don’t realise that our body clocks are reset every morning when we wake up,’ she explained.

‘At this time our clock sets the bodily rhythms for the day including a sleep time that is set for roughly 16 hours later.’

While on a weekday, when you rise at 6 or 7am, this might work well as you are ready to go to sleep around 10 or 11pm, if you’re out late on a Friday night and then up late on a Saturday, then you might not be ready to go back to sleep until around 3am the next day.

‘Social jet lag is that resulting feeling on the Monday, when you are totally off schedule,’ Dr Harrington added.

So what can you do about it?

‘There is no real way to recoup lost sleep, but we can start making ourselves feel a lot better by getting the sleep we need,’ Dr Harrington said.

Speaking about her tips and tricks for getting back into a good routine, the sleep expert said you should keep trying to ‘get up at the same time every day’.

‘Exercise for at least 20 minutes each day – a walk at lunchtime is good,’ she said.

‘And try to deal with the issues of the day during the day by getting things done and finding solutions. Try not to dwell on things in bed.’

Dr Harrington also said you should ‘avoid sleeping in for more than an hour past your regular wake-up time at the weekends’, refrain from having caffeine after midday and quit napping – if you have enjoyed an afternoon sleep during the holidays.

‘Try setting an alarm one hour before your proposed bedtime and at that time, turn off all your technology, dim the lights in the room and have a warm shower,’ Dr Harrington said.

‘Also, refrain from having a large meal even three hours before bedtime.’


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