Go West, Young Man! (to minimize jet lag)

Why you’re more tired flying east than west

Airbus A350

Dr. Michael, J. Breus over at The Sleep Doctor has an answer:

Scientists have posited that the asymmetry of jet lag—the increased impact that results from eastward travel compared to westward—is connected to the fact that human circadian rhythms, on average, extend slightly beyond 24 hours. This means that at a biological level we’re all slightly inclined toward extending our days at their end rather than at their beginning—essentially, we find it somewhat easier to behave like night owls than larks.

Basically, it’s easier to stay up late than get up early.

I think I agree with that.

Farther down, however, is a real gem, though:

Light exposure at the wrong time of day interferes with circadian function and sleep-wake cycles, throwing the body’s internal timekeeping out of sync with external time.  This common occurrence results in what’s known as social jet lag—the kind of jet lag you can experience without ever leaving home or crossing time zones.

Clicking on through to the NCBI website gives us the abstract of “Social jetlag: misalignment of biological and social time”. The abstract sums thusly:

Our results strongly suggest that work (and school) schedules should be adapted to chronotype whenever possible.

So, basically, earning and learning is better when done on your own schedule than that of others. Of course, if your chronotype already matches school and work, you’re golden. Otherwise, how do you make your life work with your sleep schedule? When do you set aside time to learn and time to do?