Do You Have Social Jet Lag?

Do you need a few cups of coffee to wake up and get focused on the office in the morning? Do you have your most productive ideas at night? You might have social jet lag.

Anyone who has to rely on an alarm clock to get up in the morning suffers from at least a mild form of social jet lag, which means your biological clock doesn't match the social schedule you're required to follow. It's been shown to have a significant impact on employees' performance at work. The majority of workers follow a 9-5 schedule whether or not this aligns with their natural sleep cycle, so they may not be working at their most productive time of day.

People who are lucky enough to be early birds have an advantage in the traditional workplace because their body clock fits their schedule. In fact, a study from Denmark found that people who adapt well to the social clock earn 4-5% more than night owls! The amount of rest a person gets affects their productivity as well as their physical and mental health. If sleep is so important, how can we solve the problem?

As an employee, there's often not much you can do about your work schedule if flexible working is not offered in your company. One thing that you can change is your exposure to light. Many people are aware that blue light from screens keeps them up at night. Using blue light blockers or night mode on your phone or tablet a few hours before bedtime can get you ready to sleep. But equally important is being exposed to sunlight during the day. The artificial light in offices can trick your body as to what time of day it is. Try to get out in the sunshine as much as you can.

As an employer, consider implementing flexible working schedules. Companies who have tried this have shown increased productivity and profits as well as greater employee satisfaction. The idea of the 9-5 is firmly ingrained in traditional company cultures, but with increasingly more people working from home, flexible work schedules may help eliminate social jet lag in the future.


What is social jet lag?
How social jet lag impacts workers
What you can do as an employee
What you can do as an employer