‘Social jet lag’ is the real reason you sleep like crap on Sundays


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Photo: Getty Images/Aleksandar Nakic

Weekends are made for recharging your battery for the week ahead, true—but they’re also about having fun. If your definition of a Saturday night well-spent involves late-night dancing or game nights that stretch on into the wee morning hours, you likely sleep through a good part of Sunday. And good for you! But Shelby Harris, PsyD, author of The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia, says that a little something called “social jet lag” might make you pay for Saturday’s joy on Monday morning.

“Social jet lag occurs when you shift your sleep schedule on the weekends—or your days off—by staying up later and sleeping later,” Dr. Harris explains. “Essentially, you’re changing ‘time zones’ without actually traveling across time zones.” As a consequence, you may find it hard to lull yourself to sleep on Sunday night. “Your body isn’t up for enough hours on Sunday to get sufficiently sleepy at the normal workweek bedtime, thereby creating Sunday night insomnia.”

I think we can all agree that Mondays feel like a day-and-a-half without tacking on a bad night’s sleep. So if you wake up at 1 p.m. on a Sunday, Dr. Harris recommends adding a few things to your schedule to ensure that you’re rubbing tired eyes by the time your normal, non-Saturday night bedtime rolls around.

How to avoid ‘social jet lag’

1. Try not to nap

Sundays are ideal for napping. It’ just a fact. But if you’ve already slept most of the day away, try not to let your bed’s siren song convince you to go for round two a few hours after waking. Instead, get outside, go for a hike, or head straight to your favorite workout class (which could help wear you out).

2. Skip the caffeine

I know! This is a hard one. If you’re already sleeping late, Dr. Harris says you’re well-rested enough to skip the caffeine so you won’t disrupt your circadian rhythms later. Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy that instead.

3. Don’t eat or exercise 3 hours before bed

When you finally do call it a night and slip under your covers, you want to make sure your body’s not still digesting food and that it’s had the chance to lower your body temperature after working out. That way, nothing will interrupt your sweet, sweet dreams.

4. Give yourself at least an hour to wind down before your normal bedtime

Snuggle up, meditate, read, and try (just try!) to shelf your phone for the night.

5. incorporate sleep-promoting foods throughout the day

“Tryptophan is an amino acid which is known to boost feel good and sleep-inducing hormones serotonin and melatonin,” Rachel Berman, RD, previously told Well+Good. So what contains tryptophan? To name just a few, salmon, eggs, tofu, lentils, and spinach all deserve a spot on Sunday’s lineup. Nice try, social jet lag.

Foods to eat on Monday for extra energy:

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