Date 07.03.2023

What are the 'Sunday scaries' and how to get better sleep

What are the 'Sunday scaries' and how to get better sleep

You know that dreadful feeling you get when you’re trying to fall asleep on Sunday night? You find yourself laying in bed thinking about all of the tasks you have to accomplish during the upcoming week and you just cannot fall asleep. That feeling is known as the “Sunday scaries,” and it is more common than you may realize.

As a form of anticipatory anxiety, the Sunday scaries involve nervousness and dread about something that hasn’t happened yet. Usually that anxiety is about the week ahead, and that feeling of impending doom shows up on Sunday evening. As a result, Sunday has been found to be the hardest night of the week to fall asleep. 

As Dr. Alex Dimitriu puts it, “Sunday scaries are essentially a form of performance anxiety, much like before a test or a presentation. Part of it is natural, but it can also be too much, leading to stress, insomnia, and a worsened night of sleep.”

Here are some statistics from studies about the effects of the Sunday scaries:

  • 79.5% of adults say they have had trouble falling asleep on Sundays compared to other days of the week
  • 33.2% of adults ages 18 to 41 say they often or always have trouble sleeping on Sundays
  • 58.8% of adults ages 58 and older say they have trouble sleeping on Sundays
  • 54.4% of adults say stress and anxiety are the top things keeping them awake

Interestingly enough, the Sunday scaries are not unique to any specific demographic or group of people. While it might vary by generation, the Sunday scaries show up regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic status. According to one survey, every age group identified Sunday as the most difficult day of the week to fall asleep. Additionally, Sunday has been found to be the “unhappiest day” of the week. 

In general, there are three identified primary reasons for most people’s inability to fall asleep on Sunday:

  1. Worrying about the next day (57.2%)
  2. Job or employment situation (43.8%)
  3. Family (41.3%)

The relationship between stress and sleep suggests there is a bidirectional relationship between the two. Stress from the work week prevents sleep, and in turn sleep deprivation creates more stress. As a result, there is a recurring cycle of sleep deprivation and increased stress.

At healf, we recognize the importance of proper Sleep as one of the four pillars of overall healthy well-being. Finding balance in your bedtime routine and getting adequate sleep leads to many health benefits both short and long-term. We’ve put together a few tips on how to beat the Sunday scaries once and for all.

Tips to beat the Sunday scaries

When you find yourself unable to fall asleep on Sunday because of the upcoming week looming over you, here are some tips on how to minimize the Sunday scaries to ensure you get the most out of your sleep.

Plan ahead for the upcoming week

Map out a plan for the upcoming week so that you know what to expect. This will help you better prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for what you need to accomplish. This can involve creating a to-do-list of your upcoming tasks and explore possible solutions beforehand.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of tasks you need to get done, divide the tasks into categories. This helps make your week seem more manageable and less stressful. 

The categories can be:

  • Things you have to do
  • Things that can wait
  • Things someone can help you with

The reason why planning ahead works so well is because planning is a form of proactive coping, which is taking action to prevent later stress. A study found that those who participate in proactive coping had lower levels of stress and depression than the control group. Overall, planning will help you find peace in knowing you have done everything you can to prepare for the week.

Practice good sleep hygiene

What is sleep hygiene? It is optimizing your sleep environment and any other routines or rituals you participate in when getting ready for bed. 

Good sleep hygiene includes:

  • Having a consistent bedtime
  • Following a similar bedtime routine
  • Preparing an environment that is conducive to sleep

Overall, good sleep hygiene is a way to “turn off” your brain before bed and to stop obsessing about the upcoming events of the week. By maintaining consistent sleep hygiene, Sunday becomes like any other night of sleep.

Make Sundays more relaxing

Spend your last day of the weekend doing some things you actually enjoy. This can include activities like reading a book, going for a hike, or going to a yoga class. Studies show that increasing your leisure time can counteract stress and improve your mood. By decreasing your stress levels throughout Sunday, you will be better able to fall asleep when it is time to Sunday evening.

Outsource your chores throughout the week

Recent research shows that most people under-outsource their chores. Instead of waiting until Sunday to do all of your chores, try spreading them out throughout the week. By allocating your chores throughout the week, you can better relax and look forward to Sunday. This will help dissipate the feeling of not having accomplished enough by the time you try to fall asleep on Sunday.

Conclusion

While a lot of people experience the Sunday scaries, there are ways to beat it. By planning ahead and dedicating relaxing activities for Sunday, you can minimize your stress levels before you try to fall asleep on Sunday. Instead of starting your week with dread, you can take steps to starting your week with a good and healthy mindset.

If you are looking for ways to create the perfect sleep environment to help beat the Sunday scaries, here are some of our recommended products:

Sources

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