Stop Sleeping In!
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Everyone knows that you are supposed to get up at the same time everyday, but the reason why might surprise you.
Our sleep cycle is regulated by our circadian rhythm and that is directly associated with the amount of light we get each day and our body temperature, which despite what you might think, fluctuates about a degree over a 24 hour period.
How does our circadian rhythm work?
When we get up in the morning, the sunlight hits our eyes suppressing melatonin production. We become active and our body temperature begins to rise. This rise in temperature supports us throughout the day, reaching its highest point and our most alert time in the late afternoon or early evening.
In the evening, this process is reversed. The sun sets, melatonin production begins, we become less active, and our body temperature begins to drop, reaching its lowest point about 3 am. This prepares us for sleep.
How does sleeping in affect this process?
When we have a day off, or on the weekend, or a bad night sleep, and we decide to stay in bed to get more sleep, we delay this process. Melatonin suppression begins later, our body temperature begins rising later, and overall our day starts late.
This delay in the morning, pushes back the start of our wind down time at night by the same amount of time. Melatonin secretion is later, delaying our body temperature drop and making it harder for us to go to sleep that evening when we normally would.
This is the same effect that jetlag has on our body except we do it to ourselves, usually every week.
Why do we dread Sunday night?
We usually attribute our inability to sleep on Sunday night to our dreading going back to work, but it likely has more to do with our sleeping in over the weekend. We could accommodate our sleeping late by staying up later on Sunday night; however, we usually go to bed earlier with the hopes of getting a good night's sleep for Monday morning.
Because our body isn't ready for sleep yet, we don't fall asleep when we get into bed, leaving us frustrated and anxious. These thoughts trigger our anxiety over not being able to get enough sleep and wake up rested for work the next day and then we try harder to go to sleep. This "trying" to sleep exacerbates our inability to sleep, and it takes us even longer to pass out.
This is why it's so important that you get up at the same time every day.
What does "same time" mean?
Getting up at the same time every day means within a 30-minute window. But that doesn't mean that if you want to get up at 7 that you can rise anywhere from 6:30 to 7:30 - a half hour from your desired time, you want to keep it between 6:45 and 7:15.
This half hour window will keep your circadian rhythm in sync, allowing you to feel tired when it's time for bed and sleep more soundly through the night.
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