Daily wisdom: ''Sunday scaries'' are real

Why your sleep suffers before the start of the week and how to get ahead of it

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Nearly a quarter of people say Sunday is the worst night for sleeping soundly, in a survey of over 4,000 Americans and Brits conducted by the meditation app, Calm.


There are a variety of reasons people may legitimately sleep worse on Sundays, says Chris Winter, M.D., author of The Sleep Solution and president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine. “People tend to anticipate the work week and that can be anxiety inducing, particularly if you don’t like your job,” he explains. Plus, a lot of active people have lengthy to-do lists for the weekend that get put off in favor of long training runs or family outings, which means you may be staying up later on Sunday to try and finish your tasks.

But the biggest culprit for impaired sleep on Sunday is probably the fact that many people use the weekend to make up for our poor sleep during the week, Winter points out. “If you sleep in until noon, when you go to bed that night, your body still thinks it’s early and isn’t ready to power down,” he explains. It’s called “social jet lag” and a recent study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found altering your sleep patterns in this way (even by sleeping in an extra two hours) can lead to poorer health, worse mood, and increased sleepiness and fatigue.

Getting sub-par sleep on Sunday can mess with your mood and performance Monday morning, not to mention overall health. Instead of sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday, stick to your regular bedtime and wake time to keep your circadian rhythm in sync, Winter advises. Expose yourself to sun first thing in the morning and if you still crave extra zzz's opt for a 20-minute mid-day nap, he adds. If you have serious trouble sleeping on Sundays, get in a hard workout that morning to help exhaust your body more. And if your mind is still swirling about the week ahead as you lie in bed, see if you can rearrange your Monday schedule so it's less imposing, and then try a little pre-bed meditation to help settle your mind, says Winter.