A recent report reveals that Sunday night insomnia is an issue for as many as one in four of us. Those afflicted may go to bed early, feel tired and are keen to go off to sleep yet instead lie awake tossing and turning or they drift off to sleep only to awaken in the early hours feeling tired and unrefreshed. What is it about weekends and especially Sunday night that can cause such a level of sleep disturbance?
For many people weekends are about quality time, special time to be spent with family, friends, doing meaningful things with the important people in their lives. But chores need to be fitted in too and this can result in every second being accounted for, with little space for relaxation and chilling out.
Then there are those people who prefer not to have plans at the weekend. They want to be spontaneous and see how things pan out, so often end up doing nothing or very little. This can result in them feeling cheated, that they've wasted their weekend and so feel frustrated at the amount of time they've frittered away.
Often 'friends' will have posted pictures and updates on social media about the scintillating weekend they've had, partying with friends, having a simply fabulous time in all the local bars and hot spots. This can serve to highlight ones' own shortcomings in the fun department, even though we know only too well that social media is specifically tailored to convey fun and laughs.
Sunday night is also the time when many people start to reflect on the coming week at work. They may be due to receive feedback on a crucial piece of work they've delivered or have a busy time ahead with important meetings, a large volume of work to clear, staff shortages to accommodate. There may be ongoing tension with a colleague or job security may be an issue. Added into the mix is the stress of the daily commute with traffic, road conditions, other commuters to navigate, plus any personal or domestic concerns.
All these factors can influence our ability to sleep well on a Sunday night. And let's not forget that our habits are often very different at weekends. I've worked with clients who've experienced dreadful headaches at weekends only to be incredulous when they calculate how much coffee they drink during their working week compared to very little at weekends - the caffeine withdrawal causes their weekend headaches!
Let's look at ways to help with Sunday night insomnia;
- Deal with any worries as best you can. Write down outstanding items on a list and question each item in turn. Ask 'can I do anything more about it', 'have I done as much as I can'? Deal with what you can then decide to put the worry away in a drawer until the situation moves or changes. This can be a useful discipline to employ, providing reassurance that you won't forget anything serious or important; it's written down and you don't need to constantly mull over it in your head.
- Share how you're feeling. Discuss matters with close family or friends and listen to their issues in return. It can be heartening to discover that you're not alone in your concerns and you may find that you end up sharing advice and solutions, helping each other with mutual support.
- Plan your weekends ahead. Rather than leave things to chance or alternatively have each minute choreographed why not take time to sensibly plan ahead, incorporating time for chores, catching up with friends and a little personal time. Maybe double up some arrangements and go for a walk, followed by Sunday lunch with a group of friends. That way you combine fresh air, exercise and time socialising with the special people in your life.
- It can be useful to set aside thirty minutes on a Sunday night to plan an overview of the coming week. Then when new or unexpected issues arise you have a better sense of how you can accommodate them. You're able to feel less stressed and more in control.
- Don't be afraid to say 'no'. Sometimes declining invitations can be a positive commitment to yourself and your quality of life. Instead of going to yet another party or meal with friends why not have a relaxing night at home with your special someone over a take-away supper and a little TV. It can be a lovely, less tiring way to spend an evening. Soften the refusal by offering an alternative date for meeting up.
A few simple actions can relieve the pressure, so enabling you to feel more relaxed and less stressed about the coming week at work; some pointers to help you sleep better on a Sunday night!