Me and my social jet lag

There has been a bit of buzz around social jet lag on the internets over the last couple weeks, mostly from this piece that the Huffington Post picked up from Since social jet lag is something that our technology can help with, I thought I would write about my own experiences with social jet lag.
What the heck is social jet lag?

Before I co-founded LumosTech, social jet lag was not in my active vocabulary, although I have definitely suffered from it on and off since I was a teenager. Put simply, social jet lag describes ongoing mismatch between circadian rhythms and social clocks- the schedule your daily life requires of you. If you routinely have trouble falling asleep before midnight, and wake up groggy and tired at 6 am that would be social jet lag.

There’s a really nice article on about it, which I will defer to for a more complete description, but here are some key points: I am not unique in my social jet lag; nearly 70% of people suffer from at least one hour of social jet lag, over 30% suffer from two or more hours of social jet lag. The cumulative effect of this mismatch is not good- from decreased concentration and memory all the way to a higher risk of heart disease and obesity. The epidemic of social jet lag researchers are seeing today may be tied to how much time we spend indoors, where even the brightest of office lighting pales in comparison to the intensity of the sun (although there may be ways to change that).

The cutest kind of social jet lag?

Three images of a toddler wearing a sleep mask
…if only our sleep-cycles matched up better.

My current manifestation of the mismatch between my sleep cycle and my ‘social’ obligations takes a very cute form: my 17 mo son.

I’m naturally more of a lark than a night owl- I naturally wake up around 7 am. My son takes this whole lark business to a new level, with a strong preference for wake-up times around 5:30 am- and nothing and no one is really that cute to me at that hour. And while I can usually get to sleep by 11 pm, if I try to fall asleep around 10 pm (which would put me at a respectable 7hr 30min), I usually toss and turn, stare at the ceiling, or, worst of all, mentally review my day for a good while before finally nodding off. While a very small subset of people is highly functional on 6 or fewer hours of sleep a night, I am not one of them. Less than seven hours of sleep makes for a rather grumpy mommy- you don’t even want to see my rendition of “Moo, Baa, La La La” on those early mornings. Nobody, even my usually sanguine son, is very happy in that situation! Having read a good deal of the sleep research that indicates that skimping on a full night’s sleep (even by as little as 20 minutes!) impairs performance and memory the next day, I became more aware of how my work was suffering on the especially early mornings, and, conversely, how much more productive and creative I was on those magical days where he slept in until close to 7 am.

I’m currently testing how our sleep mask improves this situation, which I will tell you about in future blog posts!

Are you dealing with social jet lag? Find out more about your chronotype here: Munich Chronotype Questionnaire

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