Are you someone who travels around the globe a lot and uses the word ‘jet lag’ more than ‘hello’ in your conversation? Or, do you just lay wide awake in bed for at least a few hours before you finally drift off to sleep? Well, jet lag isn’t the only thing that causes your inconsistent sleep schedule. Ignoring what your body wants or not having a proper biological cycle also causes your sleep to be deprived of quality and quantity. But, what is it that keeps causing this disturbance?
In 2006, the social ‘jet lag’ term was coined by a certain Till Roenneberg. This is defined as a mismatch or non-connectivity between your sleep and your social life. The same description can be extended to an inconsistent sleep schedule overall. This term brings some negative effects to your body. You get tired easily, your skin becomes dull, your body becomes weak, and it may lead to chronic fatigue. Because of neglecting sleep, there is a new rise of health ailments which people are now suffering. The sleep-wake patterns when disturbed in the body causes a grave effect on the organs. For example, your skin needs to repair itself in the dark when you sleep for 7 hours daily. It has been set that way since time immemorial and suddenly when you deprive yourself of sleep, your skin appears unhealthy.
These days, more than 80% of people who go for work use alarm clocks. Your body which is in sync with nature, can tell you when to wake up automatically. Since the original biological clock is disturbed, you are conditioned into using the alarm clocks. Humans’ internal clocks vary from person to person and they may change as you step into different ages of time. Your internal clock might be different when you were a kid than now.
When you were a child, you didn’t have to stress about when to wake up or when to sleep, but as you grow up, your internal clock, your social cycle, and the external clock, all start causing discrepancies. It peaks at the age of 20 where you have so much to do but have very little time.
When you sleep a very little during the weekdays and you try to repay the massive sleep debt by sleeping in late in the weekends, it is a major tug of war and is not healthy.
Why should you fix your sleep cycle?
Everyone has a circadian clock that is rhythmed 24 hours. It perfectly coordinates with nature’s light and the dark cycle. How?
When it is dark, the light-sensitive cells in the eyes send the information to the brain that it is dark and when it is light, it does the same. Then, the clock in your body adjusts everything like hormone levels, blood pressure, body temperature, etc. When everything is in sync, the cyclic patterns can be observed. However, when these cyclic patterns are disturbed, and the coordination of the body is not met, the phase difference between these cyclic patterns managed by peripheral clocks and the main master clock is what causes the diseases and ailments.
Who do you think are the most affected?
Do you think only the night shift software engineers, the frequent flying business professionals, or the flight attendants are suffering? No. To some extent, the general lifestyle of majority of the world’s population is disturbed due to a disturbed internal clock.
It is being thoroughly researched that even the day shift workers have the disrupting of the circadian clock, and they suffer from health issues like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
When we keep shifting the times of when we eat or sleep, we are disturbing the inner cycle and the complex pathways that are in the physiology of our bodies. You may have seen many people suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and they might be caused due to the disturbance of the nervous system which is a part of the internal cycle.
Some consequences come right after the social jet lag and they are like this emergency signal where even when you reset your clock you may do it as if it is a burden and paying a toll on your life. Thus, the sleep we sleep is no more related to the earth’s light-dark cycle, and this has led to several malfunctions in our body. When you are constantly being exposed to unnatural light like the blue light from the phones and electronic devices, it further elongates the duration we need to fall asleep.
It is emphasized that the time we have is ripe, and we should adjust according to our biological cycles instead of the vice versa. Our social life should not disturb the inner cycle at all. We should understand that in today’s time, even though everyone keeps saying that sleep is a luxury, it is not. It is a necessity. It is the right of your body that even you cannot take away, because it is for your survival.