There’s something about a four-day week that somehow feels even more exhausting than a normal week.
Maybe it’s the hangover from all the socialising over the weekend, or the misguided hope that four days will pass in a flash, but we are feeling extra tired as we reach the end of this week.
All our rhythms and patterns are out of whack too.
Late nights, alcohol, rich food, and all that sunshine, has lead to a distinct lack of sleep for many, but the good news is that you can get your sleep back on track in just three nights. So why not try it this weekend?
Despite 40% of Brits suffering with sleep deprivation, studies show that it takes just three nights of high-quality sleep to recover from deprivation.
So, Martin Seeley, CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay have pulled together a three-day guide to fix your body clock. Read on to discover how you can bounce into work next week full of energy and eye bag-free.
Day one: Saturday
Wake-up time: 10am
Complete a 30-minute workout in the morning to improve your sleep tonight
Exercise and sleep are deeply interconnected. Martins says exercising can improve your sleep quality and duration of sleep, whilst a healthy sleep-wake cycle ensures more strength and endurance when working out.
Drink at least 2 litres of water for an energy boost throughout the day
‘Not only does keeping hydrated boost your energy, but your metabolism too,’ Martin adds.
‘Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling sleepy and tired, whilst negatively disrupting your mood.’
Use lighting to notify your brain of the different points in the day
Martin says light is the most important external factor affecting sleep – it plays a central role in regulating your body’s internal clock, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm.
‘This signals when to be alert and when to rest, so you should expose yourself to natural sunlight throughout the day,’ he adds. ‘Then when the sun starts to wind down on an afternoon, start dimming your lights so that by the time you get to bed, your bedroom is pitch black.
‘You should also stay off your phone for at least three hours before you plan to sleep, as the blue light emitted on your phone screen can trick your mind into thinking that it’s daytime despite it being dark outside.’
If you’re struggling to sleep, try this five-minute hack
Known as the ‘Cognitive Shuffle’, list random items in your head that are easy to visualise, non-threatening and not directly related i.e. potatoes, Tarzan, a violin.
This will tire your brain out and help keep your mind off issues preventing you from sleeping.
Day two: Sunday
Wake-up time: 8am
As soon as you wake up, open your curtains and let the light in
‘Being exposed to the bright light signals your brain to stop producing the sleep hormone, melatonin, which makes you feel drowsy,’ says Martin.
Also, if 8am is a relatively early time for you to be waking up on a Sunday morning, the experts say the light will help you wake up faster.
Spend at least 10 minutes outside in the sun
Even just 10 minutes spent walking outside in the sun can boost your happy hormone, serotonin, and stop you from feeling sleepy and sad.
Martin says: ‘However, try and go for a walk that lasts as long as possible as the more you tire yourself out, the easier you’ll find sleeping that night.’
If you do need to nap, do it the right way
‘You should only sleep for between 10-20 minutes as anything longer than 30 minutes can risk feeling groggy as your body will have entered a deep sleep cycle,’ says Martin.
It’s also important to time your nap right: ‘As your alertness naturally dips in the afternoon, you should pay attention to when you start to feel drowsy and nap straight away (if possible).
‘Make sure this is more than 8 hours before your bedtime though, as it could impact your sleep if not.’
If you want to drink, limit it to one unit of alcohol
Martin adds: ‘You may be tempted to have an alcoholic drink tonight, however, you should only allow yourself one unit – and drink it at least four hours before bedtime.’
The experts say that while alcohol can make you feel sleepy due to its sedative properties and allow you to fall asleep more quickly – your quality of sleep that night will not be high.
‘People who drink before bed are likely to experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle and can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness the following date.’
Day Three: Monday
Wake-up time: 6/7am depending on what time you normally get up for work
Eat breakfast to give yourself an energy boost
Diet and sleep quality are linked, meaning that a poor diet can cause sleep debt.
‘First and foremost, you should never skip breakfast, as it plays an important role in wakefulness,’ says Martin. ‘Try to stick to a balanced breakfast that is adequate in protein and healthy fats for an energy boost. i.e. eggs, plain, lean meat, avocado.’
Never drink coffee five hours before bed
While caffeine can provide a short-term energy boost, experts say it takes an average of 5 hours to eliminate half the amount of consumed caffeine.
‘So never drink coffee 5-7 hours before bed, and keep your intake to two cups as a maximum.’
Create a wind-down routine to reduce your stress hormone
When you’re stressed or anxious, your body produces more of the stress hormone, cortisol.
‘The higher the cortisol, the more awake you feel,’ Martin explains. ‘So, if you’re feeling stressed you should consider trying some calming activities before bedtime.
‘This could include anything from yoga to stretching, meditating to deep breathing, journaling or even having a hot bath. All of these activities are proven to help you relax.’
Play rain sounds or white noise to help you sleep more soundly
Martin says: ‘Steady rainfall noises help lure the brain into falling asleep as they are predictable, calming, stable, non-threatening and can block outside noises – making them the perfect sound to fall asleep to.’