Hey y’ all! Welcome to Love Living Well! I’m Michelle L. Bohn, personal and professional development coach, writer, English Bulldog loving, wellness weirdo, book geek and wine freak, and I teach simple self-care solutions and powerful productivity habits that stick.
So, who else has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep on Sunday nights? For me, I usually don’t have a problem falling asleep, it’s the not staying asleep that leaves me feeling muddled on Monday mornings. Research shows that we are not alone with one in four people having trouble sleeping through Sunday night. Sunday Night Insomnia Syndrome—or, as some people call it, “Sunday-somnia”—it’s a real thing, y’ all.
WHY SUNDAY NIGHT?
Why are so many of us having trouble sleeping on Sunday nights? For the most part, it’s anxiety. According to a Single Care survey released in February 2021, 62% of Americans are experiencing some level of anxiety. It’s no wonder with all that has happened within the last year: the pandemic, social justice issues, the election, and for those of us in Texas, a disastrous winter storm. Anxiety related specifically to Sunday night, however, has a few common themes such as worrying about work and the upcoming week, traffic during the Monday morning commute, tasks and deadlines that are due, and challenging interpersonal relationships at the office.
Another contributor to Sunday night insomnia is disruptions to our body’s circadian rhythms because of interruptions to our sleep routines. Late night’s out, napping and sleeping in to pay off some of the sleep-debt accrued during the work-week disrupts our body’s circadian rhythms which regulate our sleep cycles. Increases in screen-time activities, especially on Sunday night’s also lead to Sunday night insomnia.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
So, what can we do to improve our chances of sleeping through Sunday night? Here are seven-simple self-care solutions that have helped me get 7-8 hours of quality sleep on Sunday night:
1. DON’T SLEEP IN
As tempting as it is, don’t sleep in on Sunday mornings. It will make it harder to fall asleep on time because you are compressing your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. According to The Sleep Foundation:
"Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock, running in the background to carry out essential functions and processes. One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle … When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleeping problems, including insomnia."
So, go ahead and get out of bed at your usual time, or at least a suitable time that will give your body enough time to feel tired enough to sleep again when it's time for bed. And, avoid taking naps. The goal here is to make sure you are tired at bedtime.
2. GET SOME MORNING SUNSHINE
Exposure to outdoor sunlight helps our bodies regulate our sleep cycles by its effect on the production of melatonin and serotonin in our bodies. Ideally, 30-45 minutes of direct morning sunlight will help improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. An article in Environmental Health Perspectives explains, “when people are exposed to sunlight or very bright artificial light in the morning, their nocturnal melatonin production occurs sooner, and they enter into sleep more easily at night.” The article also explains that, serotonin, which is produced during the day is also affected by exposure to daylight. So, the faster you can stop production of melatonin in the morning and start production of serotonin, the better off you will be when bedtime rolls around on Sunday night.
While scientists don’t exactly know why exercise helps, there is “solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.” That’s according to an article published by Johns Hopkins Medicine. I know you don’t really want to, especially on a Sunday, but research shows that aerobic exercise increases the amount of deep sleep you get – that’s the kind of sleep that rejuvenates your mind and body and leads to better moods and higher productivity. The kind of sleep you need to face Monday morning monsters.
4. EAT HEALTHY MEALS
It’s commonly known that a good diet is key to a healthy body. But it is also an important ingredient to getting a good night’s sleep. Meals that are high in carbohydrates and that have high glycemic indexes are two of the usual suspects sabotaging Sunday night. While they may make you feel drowsy, “they have shown to increase the number of awakenings at night and reduce the amount of deep sleep you get.”
For better Sunday meal options, choose meals that are whole and plant-based foods. Did you know, the average human body needs 7-11 fist sized servings of fruits and vegetables per day? Athlete’s need even more. Think about that for just a second. How many servings of fruits, vegetables and berries have you eaten today? I know. It’s tough. Read more here on how to easily meet this nutritional requirement every day. Not sure what to cook: email me for a FREE cookbook loaded with delicious plant-based recipes.
5. AVOID ALCOHOL
Okay. This one is not fair. Especially when the main reasons we have trouble sleeping on Sunday night is because we are anxious about work related stuff to come Monday morning. But, sadly, it’s true. Alcohol negatively impacts sleep. According to a WebMD article, alcohol does help us fall asleep quicker, but it has negative impacts to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which “may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and rob you of needed ZZZ.”
So, what about our Sunday socials? Bruch without cocktails? BBQ without beer? It’s 5 o’clock and mama wants her wine time? Try the Epic Pursuit Non-Alcoholic Spritzer.. Light and crisp with notes of white tea, peach and hint of honey, this refreshing canned beverage pairs with everything from finger sandwiches to quiche to BBQ and pizza. Spritzers not quite your thing? Email me for a free Mocktails Mixing Guide. Both are great non-alcoholic options for setting yourself up for a better Sunday night’s sleep.
6. LIMIT SCREEN TIME
I know you probably don’t want to hear of all the ways your smart phone and other devices are affecting the quality of your sleep and overall health. But, unfortunately, it’s true. The blue light from screens suppresses melatonin making it harder for us to fall asleep at night. Screen time activities too close to bedtime also keep our brains stimulated and engaged, which also makes it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
Doctors recommend that we stop all screen activities at least one hour before bedtime. This will help your body to begin to produce the melatonin it needs for restful sleep.
7. PRACTICE A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Bedtime routines are a great way to help your mind and body prepare to fall asleep. It helps your mind separate from the days chores and activities, and signals it’s time to transition to sleeping time. For example, I set aside at least an hour each evening, where I turn off the TV, set my alarm for the morning, take my dog out for a break, wash my face, brush my teeth and then I read for 30 minutes or so before snapping off the light and going to bed. Some people meditate or do yoga before calling it a night. The key is to find a routine that works for you.
As always, I like to give you resources for further information. Here are few books I recommend to help improve your sleep habits:
I hope this article has helped you discover some simple self-care solutions you can add into your daily routine. For more simple self-care solutions, EMAIL ME for your FREE copy of Seven Simple Self-Care Tips, and follow me on Facebook at LOVELIVING WELL and on Instagram at @mizbohn.