Sundays are not for sleeping.
December 7, 2014 3:33 PM   Subscribe

I work late one night a week. What's best - getting up the next morning at the time I usually get up, or sleeping for 8 hours?

I work Tuesday - Saturday and on Saturday, my shift is about 4 pm to midnight. Every other day of the week, I am generally asleep by 9:30-10 pm and I wake up between 5:30 and 6 am every day.

For the most part this works out very well for me, but I am almost always a wreck on Sundays. I usually fall asleep by 1 am and wake up between 8 and 9 am. I don't feel rested - I feel crappy. But if I am woken up closer to my usual time (by a kid or my bladder or whatever) I also feel pretty lousy and tired and like I just want to fall back asleep.

Regardless, I am generally a tired wreck all Sunday long and it sucks because it's the only day that my husband and I and our kids have completely together.

So what's the best thing for my sleep hygiene? Should I wake up earlier on Sundays? Something else I'm not thinking of? Please assume switching shifts at work is not an option at this time.
posted by sutel to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In my understanding, the average sleep cycle is about 90 minutes. So shifting your sleep schedule is easiest if you move it in 90 minute increments. In other words, shortening your sleep schedule by 90 or 180 minutes is easier than 60 or 120 minutes, even if it means you get less sleep*.

I was in a similar position about a year ago, and the best thing I found was to also shift my sleep schedule on the nights before and after I had to have a late night, in order to smooth out the transition, and waking up early-ish on the late night. So, translated to your schedule, it would be:

-M,T,W,Th (normal nights) - Sleep 10-6
-Friday (night before late night) - sleep 11:30-7:30
-Saturday (late night) - sleep 1:00am - 7:30
-Sunday (night after late night) - Sleep 11:30 - 7:30, or perhaps 10 - 7:30
-Then back to normal

*I don't know where I found this information, and now I can't find any source for it. It might be total woo, but I've based my sleep hygiene on the idea and it works for me.
posted by DGStieber at 3:56 PM on December 7, 2014

If I'm understanding this right, get up later on Saturday morning so your day isn't so long. Maybe go to bed later on Friday too.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:01 PM on December 7, 2014

Have you tried taking a nap before work on Saturday? If you're like most people who wake early in the morning, you'll probably have a lull in your daytime circadian rhythms around 1 or 1:30 pm. Try taking a nap from 1-2:30 on Saturday, and then Saturday night (or more precisely, Sunday morning), sleep from 1 to 5:30 or 6.

It may not work for you. I usually nap only when I have had a really bad night's sleep before, but I've occasionally done it in advance if I know I'll be up later than usual or will otherwise have less sleep than I need.
posted by brianogilvie at 4:19 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Addendum: by "lull in your daytime circadian rhythm," I mean a brief period when you're feeling tired and it's easy to fall asleep, but you're not likely to sleep too long (unless you're chronically sleep-deprived).
posted by brianogilvie at 4:21 PM on December 7, 2014

I have an easier time keeping on a sleep schedule if I get up at the regular time and then take a late morning or early afternoon nap if needed.
posted by BrashTech at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2014

Sleep in.
posted by bearwife at 7:37 PM on December 7, 2014

For me i think sticking with normal sleep routines plus a nap on Sunday would work best. I find that I only need a short nap to help, while a sleep in tends to be lengthy.
posted by jojobobo at 11:25 PM on December 7, 2014

I found if I put a yogurt next to my bed, woke up at normal wakeup time, ate the yoghurt, then immediately went back to sleep, I didn't feel like crap, and it didn't 'reset' my bodyclock.
posted by Elysum at 12:40 AM on December 8, 2014

Response by poster: So for any future answer-seekers, I think I figured it out. Sleeping past the time where I usually have my coffee (around 6:30 a.m.) was, I think, making me feel extra tired. The last two Sundays I've woken up between 6:30 and 7 a.m., had my coffee and then had a short nap in the afternoon. I also tried staying up a bit later on Friday/sleeping a little bit later on Saturday, and that might have helped too. But I really think the coffee thing was the key.

I also drank a lot of extra water and tried to be a little more physically active, which I think helped, as well.
posted by sutel at 10:06 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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