Social Jet Lag Could Be The Reason Your Mondays Are So Hard - Here's What To Do About It

Do you dread Monday every weekend, finding yourself struggling with fatigue and brain fog when it arrives? Do your weekends typically consist of hanging out with friends or catching up with family members until the late hours of the night — and then sleeping in to compensate? You've likely inadvertently created a routine that fosters social jet lag. Social jet lag is basically the same concept as regular jet lag, except you're creating your own separate time zone during the weekends rather than physically traveling to one.


Changing your routine to accommodate a later sleeping and waking time on the weekends and then changing back for the workweek can cause a host of unwanted issues associated with chronic sleep deprivation. These impacts can range from fatigue, depression, and constipation to heart disease and diabetes. Thankfully, you can reverse social jet lag by mindfully changing your habits. You may even learn to love Mondays again. Here's how to do it.

Stick to a sleep schedule

The most important step to take, if you want to stop experiencing social jet lag, is to choose a sleep schedule and stick to it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults require a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night to function optimally. Take this into consideration when you decide on a routine for yourself. If you start work at 9:00 a.m. each weekday and have a 30-minute commute, you'll likely need to wake up at around 7:00 a.m. This means you should be falling asleep by midnight each night and waking up at the same time every morning.


The tricky part is sticking to your sleep schedule — give or take 30 minutes — even on weekends and vacations. Try to shift your social activities to an earlier timeframe. For instance, ask your friend group if they'd mind switching from weekly Friday night dinners to weekly Saturday morning brunches. With a bit of planning and effort, you can still socialize while prioritizing your health and sleep hygiene. 

Limit substance use

Everyday legal substances like caffeine, nicotine, cannabis, and alcohol can interfere with healthy sleep in some surprising ways. Caffeine and nicotine are central nervous system stimulants that can obviously keep you awake at night, if used too late in the day. Alcohol and cannabis, on the other hand, are central nervous system depressants, which can create the illusion of them aiding with sleep.


In reality, these substances may help you fall asleep, but they disrupt your overall sleep cycle by decreasing the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, increasing the chances of nighttime waking. Be mindful of your consumption of substances in relation to your sleep goals. Discontinue the use of stimulants by mid-afternoon each day and consider limiting alcohol and cannabis use to one day or night per weekend.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). 

Adjust mealtimes

Your sleep and wake times aren't the only things that can affect your body's natural rhythms. When you start eating each day and the timing of your meals plays a role in your body's cycles as well. Try to eat breakfast as soon as possible after waking up in the morning. Then, aim to eat lunch and dinner around the same time each afternoon and evening.


Eating a full meal less than two or three hours before you go to bed can negatively impact your quality of sleep. This is especially true if the meal contains fried foods or other items that are high in fat. Consuming a large around of food or high-fat foods within a couple of hours before bedtime can lead to digestive upset like heartburn or indigestion, which can keep you awake. Try to stop eating about three hours before you plan to get in bed each night. If you still experience hunger during that time, have a small snack to tide you over until you wake up in the morning. 

Get your exercise

Getting enough exercise is a major contributor to a solid sleep routine. Aim to get in at least a few minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Since exercise raises your heart rate and body temperature, some people will experience a surge of energy after working out. If this is the case for you, you'll want to make a habit of getting your exercise in the morning to prevent that boost from making it difficult for you to fall asleep at night.


For other people, the endorphins released during exercise can actually contribute to a feeling of calmness. If you fall into this camp, incorporate working out, walking, hiking, or the at-home workout of your choice into your evening routine. If you aren't sure how exercise affects your energy level, now is the best time to find out. Consider keeping a journal for a week or two to document how you feel after being active. Cleaning up your sleep routine to prevent social jet lag isn't necessarily easy. But the way you'll feel every Monday will absolutely be worth your efforts.