During Christmas and New Year, many people end up with chaotic sleeping patterns – which can make waking up for work in January extremely difficult.
However, the good news is that it takes just three nights of high-quality sleep to recover from sleep deprivation.
To help, Martin Seeley, the CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay has created a three-day guide to resetting your body clock this weekend, all of which is backed by science.
Read on to discover how you can bounce gleefully, full of energy and eye-bag-free into work next week. As well as carrying out the following activities, Martin recommends sleeping eight hours per night.
Day 1: Saturday
- Complete a 30-minute workout in the morning. Exercising improves your sleep quality and duration, while a healthy sleep cycle ensures more strength and endurance when working out.
- Drink at least two litres of water today for an energy boost. Not only does keeping hydrated boost your energy, but your metabolism too. Even mild dehydration can leave you sleepy and tired while negatively disrupting your mood.
- Use lighting (or lack of it) to notify your brain of the different points in the day. Light is the most important external factor affecting sleep as it plays a central role in regulating our body’s internal clock, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm. This signals when to be alert and when to rest, so you should expose yourself to natural sunlight throughout the day. 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.
- If you’re struggling to sleep, try this five-minute hack. Known as the cognitive shuffle, you should list random items in your head that are easy to visualise, non-threatening and not directly related, i.e. potatoes, Tarzan, and a violin. This will tire your brain and help keep your mind off issues preventing you from sleeping.
Day 2: Sunday
- As soon as you wake up, open your curtains. Exposure to bright light signals your brain to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes you feel drowsy.
- Go for a walk to increase your vitamin D, as even just 10 minutes in the sun can boost your serotonin and stop you from feeling sleepy and sad. However, try and go for a walk that lasts as long as possible; 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 10–20 minutes as anything longer than 30 minutes can risk feeling groggy as your body will enter a deep sleep cycle. Also, make sure to time your nap right. As your alertness naturally dips in the afternoon, you should pay attention when you start to feel drowsy and nap immediately (if possible). Make sure this is more than eight hours before bedtime, though, as it could impact your sleep if not.
- Refrain from drinking any alcohol. If you have the Sunday sads about returning to work, you may be tempted to have a drink tonight; however, you should refrain from doing this. While alcohol can make you sleepy due to its sedative properties and lowers your sleep quality. Research shows that people who drink before bed are likely to experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle, which can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness the following date.
Day 3: Monday
- Eat breakfast to give yourself an energy boost. Research repeatedly shows that your diet and sleep quality are linked, so you should never skip breakfast as it plays an important role in your wakefulness. 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, and stick to two coffees max. While caffeine can provide a short-term energy boost, it takes an average of five hours to eliminate half the amount of consumed caffeine – so keep this in mind.
- Create a winding-down routine to reduce your stress hormone. When stressed, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. The higher the cortisol, the more awake you feel – that is why having a winding down routine at night is important. This could include yoga, stretching, meditation, deep breathing, or a hot bath – all proven to help you relax.
- Play rain sounds to help you sleep more soundly. Steady rainfall noises help lure the brain into falling asleep as they are predictable, calming, stable, and non-threatening and can block outside noises – making them the perfect sound to fall asleep to.