A Doctor's Secret For Getting Your Best-Quality Sleep On The Weekends
When the weekend comes, we often revel in the chance to skip setting an alarm and opt instead to "catch up" on the sleep we may have missed out on during the week. The one caveat? We then inevitably have a hard time falling asleep on Sunday night.
To find out how to master the weekend snooze schedule, we asked sleep and health psychologist Joshua Tal, Ph.D.
An expert on how to treat weekend sleep.
As Tal explains to mbg, it's important we mind our circadian rhythm—whether it's a weekday or a weekend. "If you have sleep problems," he says, "it's really important to keep a consistent sleep schedule on the weekends because our natural circadian rhythm may get a bit confused if we're constantly changing our sleep schedule."
This can lead to the phenomenon known as "social jet lag," which happens when our activities on the weekend keep us up later, and we subsequently sleep in. "By Sunday night, you may not be able to fall asleep until later, which can give you a lot of anxiety," Tal adds.
So, to remedy this, your best bet is trying to go to sleep and wake up at around the same time, even on the weekends. Though, Tal adds, "If you don't have a sleeping problem, it's totally fine to sleep in a bit. You might have issues falling asleep on Sunday nights, but it's not a big deal if you can accept having one bad night of sleep."
At the end of the day (quite literally), what will best serve you is having a casual attitude toward sleep, he says, "because we know if you put too much pressure on yourself, then you definitely won't sleep," Tal notes. He compares it to dieting: Just as diets can be maintained less strictly when you reach your goal, you can loosen the reins on your sleep schedule slightly and still maintain a healthy amount of sleep.
Do's and don'ts for weekend sleep:
- Let yourself sleep in or nap if you need to.
- Try relaxing practices like meditation and breathwork.
- Keep your sleep schedule consistent most of the time.
- Stress about trying to get to sleep.
- Sleep in or take a long nap if you definitely want to get to bed "on time" that evening.
- Make unrealistic goals about waking up and falling asleep at the same time, down to the minute, every day.
How to get back on track after a weekend of weird sleep.
Should you have a weekend of wonky sleep—yes, you may have to work to get back on track a bit. To do so, Tal recommends doing relaxing exercises or practices to help the body go into rest mode without actually sleeping, like diaphragmatic breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
The deep and restorative sleep you've always dreamt about*
And on that note, giving yourself plenty of time to wind down (perhaps more than you normally would) to hit your normal bedtime, will help ensure you settle into sleep and recover from the weekend. Other things to consider include keeping your bedroom around 65 degrees (the optimal sleep temperature), trying a sleep-supporting supplement like mbg's sleep support+ and turning off your tech a little early to ensure you can get to bed on time.
The bottom line is, if you're struggling with sleep after the weekends, a consistent sleep schedule might be just what you're missing. But life is short, the weekends are fun, and, as Tal says, one bad night of sleep isn't the end of the world.