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Returning to Work or School after a Christmas Holiday – Social Jet Lag


There is a scientific excuse called the 'social jet lag' as research shows that long holiday lie-ins mess with the body clock as adults and children feel sluggish as they return to work and school after the Christmas break.


Studies show that the late nights and lie-ins of the festive season can lead to a phenomenon called "social jet lag". The body clock is out of sync upon your return to work and school.


Holiday to most people is a time of rest and relaxation. Holiday is a time to unwind and sometimes to just do nothing as long as it lasts.


So during the holiday, people relax their sleep patterns - going to bed later than normal, and then sleeping for longer.


Therefore returning to a routine of work or school after a holiday needs adjusting to because people struggle to get up in the morning, feeling sluggish.


Those suffering from social jet lag can expect to experience symptoms including indigestion, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, clumsiness, feeling generally unwell, lack of energy, fatigue and irritability.


Social Jet lag is a condition that affects many, no matter their physical condition, and can take up to a week's worth of recovery time.


To avoid these 'social jet lag' symptoms, you could re-adjust your sleeping patterns immediately by returning to an earlier bedtime.


Dr Victoria Revell, a chronobiologist at the University of Surrey, said: "Over the Christmas period we will enjoy staying up late at night and staying in bed in the morning. However, this will allow our body clock to drift later in time similar to flying a couple of time zones west.


This means that when we go back to work or school in the New Year our body clock will be set later than we want it to be so we will really struggle to wake up, get up and get going in the mornings.


"One way to enjoy the festive season but not let our body clock drift too far says Dr. Victoria Revell, is to ensure that we still get up at a reasonable time even when not going to work."  

By: The Healthy Wellbeing



1. Wittmann M, Dinich J, Merrow M, Roenneberg T, ‘Social jetlag: misalignment of biological and social time.’


Generation Research Program, Human Science Center, Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich, Germany.

Accessed: 28/12/2011

2.NHS Choices, ‘Why are teens always tired?’,

Accessed: 28/12/2011


social jet lag