It’s a Sunday evening. You’ve changed your bed sheets, put on a fresh pair of pyjamas, and are ready for a good night’s sleep. Everything is set up for you to sleep soundly, but for some reason you just can’t. Switch. Off.
Then you get stressed about how late it is, you continue to toss and turn, and you wake up on Monday morning feeling anything but refreshed. Why? Why does this happen?
There could be a couple of reasons, explains Simba’s sleep psychologist Hope Bastine. Pointing out that as many as 60% of people report having experienced similar struggles when nodding off on a Sunday night, Bastine gives some context as to why this might be.
1 The Saturday Lie-In
Firstly, she points to the disruption to our usual sleep pattern that we usually experience over a weekend. ‘Over the weekend we have disrupted our usual, albeit unhealthy, sleep pattern. We’ve had a lovely lie-in and repaid our work-week sleep debt and are now feeling well-revived,’ the expert explains.
This might sound like a good thing, but it can cause issues. ‘We’re creatures of habit governed by our body clock, the circadian rhythm, and routine is the primary language of the brain. So when we change our usual habit, our brain feels out of sorts,’ Bastine says.
2 Don’t Mess With My Melatonin
‘In addition, let’s say you woke up at 10am on Sunday and want to get a nice 9pm early night in preparation for the week ahead – that’s just 11 waking hours. Not really enough to make you flat-out tired again,’ Bastine says.
‘This sudden change in sleep behaviour disrupts the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Although you need to catch up on lost sleep, it’s important to maintain a regular routine and be active during the day instead of bingeing on Netflix,’ she adds.
2 To-Do-List Anxiety
But that’s not the only reason so many people find it difficult to switch off on the last night of the week – dread for the week ahead is also a common one.
‘You’re laying in bed ready for your early night, thinking about the ever-growing to-do list,’ says Bastine, setting the scene. For the last couple of days you’ve been off work, feeling relaxed and doing as you please, but you know you’re about to switch into being busy and tired again during the upcoming working week. It’s a pendulum effect that can cause your brain to go into overdrive.
‘This lifestyle inconsistency creates an awful psychological tug-and-pull anxiety between our desire for a sustainable life, and achieving our aspirations and dreams,’ says the psychologist. ‘Dreading the drain of the work-week is remarkably anxiety-provoking.’
I’m Tossing and Turning – What Now?
In an attempt to prevent this inevitable Sunday-night occurrence from happening, however, Bastine advises going to bed when you feel like it on a Sunday night, and not just when you think you should.
‘Enjoy those me-moments,’ she suggests. ‘Read that book you’ve been meaning to read, take a bath, or pamper yourself. Get your early night on Monday night instead!’
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This post was originally published on Cosmopolitan.com/uk.