Our biological clock, like most life on Earth, is connected to the to the Earth's 24-hour rotation through the light. But until recently, the the mechanics of this relationship were not well understood. This began to change with the discovery of a third photoreceptor in our eyes, known as intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGC's). Unlike rods and cones, they don't contribute to vision. Instead, when exposed to the specific spectrum of blue light, the ipRGCs send a signal to our master clock known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).
Before urbanisation and industrialisation, people woke around sunrise and slept shortly after dusk. But the advent of electrical lighting has changed our environment and how we live within it. We are exposed to blue light—from our home lighting and devices—at night, which shifts our internal clock back. We also receive less sunlight during the day. In industrialised nations like New Zealand, we spend the majority of the day indoors, away from the natural light we need. It comes as no surprise that 87% of people suffer from some degree of social jet lag, according to a recent study.
How can we prevent social jet lag? Occasionally sleeping in during the weekend probably won't harm your health. In fact, if your only chance to catch up on sleep missed during the week, it's better than nothing. But a healthier alternative would be to solve the underlying problem and realign your social clock with your circadian rhythm.
One possible solution would be to allow greater flexibility around work hours so that people who wake up later can maintain a consistent rhythm throughout the week. Indeed, several studies have shown that later start times in high schools can positively affect student well-being and academic performance. But unless you are your own boss, this might be tricky to implent into your lifestyle.
However, there is a simpler solution: nutritional light. Although our genes determine whether or not you're a night owl, ultimately, your relationship with light is what entrains your circadian rhythm. Studies have shown that when people go camping—reducing their exposure to artificial light—they tend to wake up and sleep two hours earlier. Inspired by this research, OSIN has engineered nutritional light—light that works with our biology to support a healthy circadian rhythm.
Three ways to reduce social jet lag now!
1. Understand how social jet lag is impacting you.
You can use our FREE social jet lag calculator to estimate just how mismatched your internal clock is.
Click here 👆
2. Minimise exposure to blue light at night.
You can minimise your exposure to blue light at night by switching to Bedtime Bulb—spectrally optimised to emit next to zero blue light so that you can enjoy the evening without shifting your circadian rhythm. And if you are going to use your phone or other devices, enable a blue light filter and lower the brightness.
3. Get more natural light during the day.
Exposure to natural light for as little as 30 minutes during the morning help bring the circadian rhythm forward, making it easier to get to sleep at night. Think of creative ways to introduce more natural light into your lifestyle such as biking to work.
If you found these tips helpful, consider sharing this post with a friend. Thanks for reading.