You’d think weekends, with (for most of us) more fun and far less pressure than during the busy week, would deliver our best and most restorative sleep.
After all, given an average Monday through Friday work or school week, there’s less stress on the weekends. And many of us have the choice to sleep in a bit later on those days, too.
Surprise! According to this study, the BEST day of the week for complete and restorative sleep is Tuesday.
Finnish company Firstbeat Technologies has revealed that while sleep wasn’t the longest on Tuesday for study participants (who hailed from the UK), it was the most restorative, as confirmed by heart rate analysis.
Nearly 5000 Britons participated in the study, making it one of the largest studies of its kind to date. The study took more than a decade to complete. Participants wore heart monitors to determine the amount of restoration of the body under various circumstances over a series of days per individual.
55.1% of Tuesday night’s sleep went toward restoration in a significant percentage of the individuals studied, according to the Finnish researchers – a higher portion of total sleep than on other week or weekend nights.
What’s so magical about Tuesday?
According to a spokesperson from Optima-Life, the company that made the monitors used during the study, “People rest for a lot longer during the weekend, but perhaps they are out partying and letting their hair down and their bodies don’t physiologically recover.”
There may be another factor at work: while Friday and Saturday may account for the pub (or movie or party), Sunday night may be spent stewing about the coming work week, while Monday can be stressful, making wind-down difficult.
This means it isn’t until Tuesday that our minds – and our bodies – can fully relax and let our body’s natural restorative processes do their work.
Can You Beat the Odds?
Is it possible to take this information and extend it to other days during the week?
That answer isn’t yet clear according to current research, but there may be a way to up your odds of the most restorative sleep possible on any day.
Try these ideas:
- Try to get to bed at the same time every night. This will give your internal biological clock “notice” that sleep is coming, and will gear you up to winding down more easily than when you’re not on a schedule.
- Don’t drink alcohol at night. It may get you nodding faster, but overall, alcohol-induced sleep is less restorative.
- Having trouble relaxing your mind Sunday night before the work week, and Monday night while rehashing the first work day back? Try meditation or yoga in order to distract your busy mind and allow you a more peaceful rest once sleep does come.
- If at all possible, maintain your normal sleep/wake schedule, even while on vacation.
- Avoid eating late at night. For some people, the digestive process can interrupt sleep or prevent it from happening in the first place.