4 Ways To Sleep Better & Remedy "Social Jet Lag," From An MD
When you think of jet lag, long-haul flights and red-eyes might immediately come to mind.
But did you know that we can actually experience jet lag without traveling across the world?
According to New York Times bestselling author Mike Dow, Psy.D., Ph.D., we experience jet lag more than we think—sometimes we even experience it every single weekend.
He explains what's known as "social jet lag," a concept that afflicts all of us who spend our Friday and Saturday nights staying up late with friends, watching movie marathons, and sleeping until we roll out of bed for a late brunch.
All of these activities lead to a disrupted sleep routine that we desperately try to amend throughout the workweek—only to mess up again when Friday rolls around.
While we're definitely not going to tell you to cancel plans in order to optimize your sleep schedule, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure you are back on track before Monday morning starts.
Here are Dow's four hacks to get an ideal night of sleep, every single night:
Invest in some shades
One of the most important aspects of a good night's sleep, according to Dow, is to keep the room dark. And not just dark—we mean really dark.
"Pitch black is best," he tells me.
Some people love to wake up to the natural morning light in their eyes, which has its known benefits as well.
But if you live in a crowded city that seems to light up your room with fluorescence, it may be best to draw the curtains while you sleep.
Or, as Dow suggests, you could purchase an eye mask. That way, you can ensure a pitch-black sleep at night and wake up with the morning sun.
Keep it cool
"Since your body cools as you fall asleep, you want to facilitate that process," Dow states.
It's like you're almost tricking your body into "sleep mode." By creating conditions that mimic your body's natural sleep cycle, you can accelerate that process.
That's why, according to Dow, you should turn your thermostat down to 67 or 68 degrees an hour before getting in bed.
If you and your partner ever bicker about keeping the fan on at night, consider this a doctor-approved case to keep it cool.
Sleep less to sleep more
It seems counterintuitive—shouldn't you try and catch up on sleep when you're sleep-deprived?
But Dow says that sleeping in late to make up for a night of poor sleep only puts you further behind in your quest for an ideal sleep schedule.
Instead, you should try to wake up at your normal time, no matter what time you eventually fell asleep that night.
Dow calls this process sleep "compression and expansion," which essentially means you should actually sleep less to end up sleeping more.
"If you go to bed and wake up at your normal time, that sleep compression will help you to sleep really well the next day and will keep your circadian rhythms in sync," he says.
So, even if you're feeling especially sleepy one underslept night, don't snooze that alarm. It may be best to gulp down some coffee and try going to bed early that night.
Experiment with supplements
If you've tried all of the above tips and still feel like you need a midday nap, Dow recommends you experiment with supplements that can promote more restful sleep.
Whether you opt for a magnesium supplement or another over-the-counter, natural sleep aid, a sleep supplement may be what it takes to get some much-needed shut-eye.*
"It promotes more restful sleep, so you can wake up feeling refreshed," Dow adds.*
We know we don't need to remind you how crucial your sleep is to your overall well-being.
These four tips can help you optimize your sleep routine, whether you've returned from a trip across the world or from a Saturday-night soirée. Here's to combating social jet lag—and to better sleep hygiene as a whole.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.