So you slept terribly this week.
No worries, you think to yourself: You'll make it up this weekend.
But ignoring your alarm clock and waking up at noon on Saturday and Sunday could be a recipe for disaster — especially if you got up at the crack of dawn every day this week. That's at least according to severalrecent studies and one brand new one released Wednesday.
The findings explore a fairly new concept that's been getting more attention recently called "social jetlag." The phenomenon works just like regular old jetlag, only it happens when our body clocks get thrown off by the gap between our weekend and weekday sleep schedules.
Aside from simply cutting back on our shut-eye, social jetlag has been linked with some pretty unwelcome health effects, from poor mood and trouble paying attention to obesity and higher body mass index.
Luckily, there are ways to fix it. And the biggest one is baffling simple:
Wake up at around the same time every day!
The newest study found even more connections between social jetlag and health, including lower levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and higher body mass index in people exposed to more social jetlag. These findings persisted even after the researchers accounted for outside factors like people's exercise and eating and drinking habits.
Check out these helpful tips for better sleep:
For their study, researchers studied close to 450 men and women between ages 30 and 54 by having them wear sleep-tracking devices for a week.
The vast majority of them — roughly 85% — woke up and went to bed later on non-working days than they did on working days.
The findings were pretty striking: The bigger the gap between people's sleep schedules on days when they worked and days when they didn't, the stronger the negative findings on factors related to metabolism like body mass index and cholesterol.
And while the latest study was too short to prove that these particular effects are long-lasting, plenty of other research backs up the idea that the gap between our workweek and weekend schedules isn't doing us any favors.
So do something for yourself this weekend and set an alarm for a reasonable hour. Your body will thank you.