Your Emotions, Addictions, and Biological Clock

I wrote a few days ago about the importance of sleep. One issue discussed was that the amount of hours you get may not be as important as their quality. One of the best ways to get quality sleep is to do it at the same time every day. 

However, there’s a lot of variation in the times people like to go to bed. Circadian rhythm is your body’s natural preference to fall asleep at a certain hour, and sometimes there’s not a lot you can do to change it. 

Night owls can face an uphill battle in life because school and the 9 to 5er can seriously mess with your biological rhythms. “Social Jetlag” can increase your chances of doing a lot of grizzly things, like take up smoking:

 The most striking correlation exists between chronotype and smoking, which is significantly higher in late chronotypes of all ages (except for those in retirement). We show these correlations are most probably a consequence of social jetlag, i.e., the discrepancies between social and biological timing rather than a simple association to different chronotypes.

The effects of Social Jetlag are especially pernicious in adolescence, when people show the greatest variations in their circadian clock. A persistent discrepancy between when you like to sleep and when you have to work can slow adolescent development, impair emotional recognition, and increase the prevalence of addictive behavior.

Ouch. 

I’m a night owl, and I don’t think I have any of these qualities, but anecdotally I can recall from my college days when my impulsiveness would spike after an all-nighter.

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