Social Jet Lag Is A Thing At Christmas, Here's How To Beat It

Feel like you're running on empty? Welcome to the new tired. And Merry Christmas.

Christmas and the long, lovely, summery holidays are just, well, days away (insert sigh here) which means your social calendar is probably starting to fill up if it isn't full already. Family Christmas, friends' barbies, work parties... it's exhausting! Fun, yes, but SHEESH I'M TIRED ALREADY....

Well if you feel that you can't keep up and that you may as well have been on holiday to Europe and just got back, there's actually a name for that -- social jet lag  -- and it's very real. It's basically when your body's internal clock doesn't match up with your daily life, according to a new study

The study found that people's sleep patterns change seasonally, because of changes in social schedules, such as school, work, and commuting schedules -- just like the changes in schedules seen during the holiday season as events and parties amp up.

End result, exhaustion before the end of  Christmas.

And not only is it real, it can also be real bad for your health.

Results of a study at the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson said that social jet lag is associated with poorer health, worse mood, and increased sleepiness and fatigue. Each hour of social jet lag also is associated with an 11-percent increase in the likelihood of heart disease.

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"These results indicate that sleep regularity, beyond sleep duration alone, plays a significant role in our health," said lead author Sierra B. Forbush, an undergraduate research assistant. "This suggests that a regular sleep schedule may be an effective, relatively simple, and inexpensive preventative treatment for heart disease as well as many other health problems."

So how can you stop the lag and start to enjoy the moment? There are some ways  to help yourself -- and your brain and body -- stay on top of things.

Deal with your phone

Turn off notifications -- that way you won't have your phone pinging with festive greetings all day long, or most importantly, all night.

Ditch it after dark -- give yourself at least 30 minutes of screen free time before you go to bed. The blue light that your phone emits will only make that social jet lag worse as it messes with your circadian rhythms. Same goes for the TV please.  The advice from the sleep unit of  Loma Linda University in California? "Instead of turning on the television, try reading a book or writing in a journal in the hour before you go to sleep. These activities can relax your mind and help your body unwind.

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Take time to wind down (and ditch the coffee)

Loma Linda University recommends taking a bath, doing some gentle stretches, or some deep-breathing exercises instead. And talk to your partner for 30 mins before bed time. And if you're really feeling the lag, needing coffee to even get started in the mornings,  make sure you stop drinking it, or any caffeinated beverage, around 2pm. That will give your body time to chill out.

Get up at the same time every day... yes even after a late night

The body's internal clock craves consistency, so you'll feel more rested over time if you stick to the same sleep schedule, say researchers from North Carolina State University. Yep. Even on weekends. And yes, after the office Xmas party. Sorry.

Keep up the exercise

Even if it's just a 20-minute walk before or after work, getting some activity will help you get some better quality sleep that will -- in turn-- help you offset social jet lag.

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Get rid of your debt... sleep debt that is...

Rather than just sleeping in on the weekends though, sleep psychologist Hope Bastine told Cosmopolitan UK you should go to bed one hour earlier and wake up one hour later. This way, you're "spreading out the repayment of your sleep debt" (in the same way you would with a credit card, for example).

And don't take any naps either...  this could be playing havoc with your sleep patterns. Stay awake until bedtime.

Feature Image: Getty