Saturday, May 19, 2012

Internal Time: The Science of Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired

Maria Popova explains "Social Jet Lag" and other highlights from a new book by German chronobiologist Till Roenneberg.

Source: Brain Pickings

In a newly published book: <b>Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired</b>, German chronobiologist Till Roenneberg demonstrates through a wealth of research that our sleep patterns have little to do with laziness and other such scorned character flaws, and everything to do with biology.

Roenneberg traces the evolutionary roots of different sleep cycles and argues that while earlier chronotypes might have had a social advantage in agrarian and industrial societies, today’s world of time-shift work and constant connectivity has invalidated such advantages but left behind the social stigma around later chronotypes.

This myth that early risers are good people and that late risers are lazy has its reasons and merits in rural societies but becomes questionable in a modern 24/7 society. The old moral is so prevalent, however, that it still dominates our beliefs, even in modern times.

Roenneberg goes on to explore sleep duration, a measure of sleep types that complements midsleep, demonstrating just as wide a spectrum of short and long sleepers and debunking the notion that people who get up late sleep longer than others — this judgment, after all, is based on the assumption that everyone goes to bed at the same time, which we increasingly do not.

The disconnect between our internal, biological time and social time — defined by our work schedules and social engagements — leads to what Roenneberg calls social jet lag, a kind of chronic exhaustion resembling the symptoms of jet lag and comparable to having to work for a company a few time zones to the east of your home.

Unlike what happens in real jet lag, people who suffer from social jet lag never leave their home base and can therefore never adjust to a new light-dark environment … While real jet lag is acute and transient, social jet lag is chronic.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Brain Pickings

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