Humans are social creatures. No matter how happy you might be spending time by yourself, science tells us that we are most healthy when we spend time with other people. So over time, our sleep has evolved to aid us in a social environment, boosting the skills we need to navigate this interpersonal world.
This Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to talk about the ways sleep helps us in our romantic relationships specifically. While being in a romantic relationship can be a fun and rewarding experience, it’s also not exactly easy. We humans may be social creatures, but we’re also individuals, and we come into every relationship with our own histories, aspirations, quirks, and pet peeves, which makes blending your life with someone else a definite “learning experience”, to put it nicely.
Picture this: You fly from New York to Los Angeles on Friday night and start adjusting to Pacific time. On Sunday night, you catch a red eye and abruptly fly back to the east coast: where waking up at 7 a.m. for a Monday morning meeting feels like 4 a.m. to your body. Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?
Well, if you’re like a lot of people, this is exactly what your body is being put through every time you stay up late on the weekends and then try to adjust to a 9-to-5 schedule on Monday. This concept is called “social jetlag” because it’s often a result of socializing on the weekends, and the impacts of chronic fatigue and drowsiness very closely resemble jetlag.
Our bodies crave consistency, and so they’ll try to establish a solid pat