Social Jet-lag: Synchronising your secret sleep switch
As part of the ScienceFest Cosing Party - Secrets and Lies: Centre for Life 7.00 - 10.00pm Thursday 15th March 2012
The Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research was founded in November 2010, and since its opening Dr. Jason Ellis, Dr. Nicola Barclay and the team of researchers from the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research have been interested in identifying factors, both biological and environmental, which impact on our sleep and daily functioning.
Sleep is fundamental to health and well-being and is under threat from the increasing demands of the 24/7 lifestyle. The ways in which we deal with these demands shows great variation between individuals.
Humans display individual differences in ‘chronotype’, i.e. preferred timing of sleep, wake, and other activities. Some people, so called ‘larks’, find getting up early in the morning relatively easy, yet can’t stay awake past the 10pm news. Other people, so called ‘owls’, may prefer to sleep in later in the day and find it easy to remain awake and alert into the twilight hours. This variation in chronotype is partly determined by biological processes which interact with external environmental and social time cues, to influence the timing and regulation of our internal ‘body clock’. This clock runs roughly on a 24 hour schedule and is known as your Circadian Rhythm.
However, we live in a very busy society and often the times at which we are active and at rest are constrained to fit in with our work or social lives, rather than when we are biologically suited to be awake or asleep. Discrepancies between our biological and social timing can occur in everyday life, where sleep-wake schedules become out-of-sync with the demands of society – producing a state of ‘social jetlag’. But what effect does social jetlag have on our daily lives? Take part in our specialised set of tests and computerised tasks to determine whether you are a lark or owl, your degree of social jet-lag, and to explore its relationship to individual differences in cognitive functioning.