After a long and well deserved summer holiday full of late nights and lazy mornings, it can be quite rough when everyday life knocks on the door again. Turning your days upside down when you don’t have your regular routines is a liberating feeling, but let’s face it: We are all creatures of habits and when the alarm clock rings after a long holiday, you feel it in particular. So what to do? Follow these steps to make that first Monday back to work after a holiday a little easier:
1. Think ahead to beat the post vacation fatigue
Contrary to what you would think, holidays are not a great time to catch up on missed sleep. Those lie-ins, afternoon naps and late nights, mess with your body clock and make it difficult to readjust to normal, everyday life. That is why you shouldn’t start resetting your internal clock on the Monday morning where work starts again. Instead, start a couple of days earlier. Go to bed at the same time as you would do on a regular night, and set the alarm clock for your usual workday rise-time Saturday morning. By Monday you will find it easier getting up.
2. Use light and dark to reset your body clock
The powerful contrast between a bright day and a dark night helps you into a natural rhythm. In the morning, light puts your body in “wake mode”. At night, the darkness leaves the message that it is time to go to Shangri-La. When you go outside, the light is much stronger, so make sure to get some fresh air in the morning to boost your body’s internal clock. At night, be careful with artificial light, especially that which comes from electrical devices. Switch off TV and tablets at least one hour before bed.
Read more about blue light.
3. Don’t hit snooze or take naps
When the alarm clock sounds, you might feel a desperate urge to hit the snooze button to get some extra minutes of sleep. But don’t do it! Waking up again that second time will not make you feel any more rested. Instead, set your alarm clock for the time you have to get up. Pull back the curtains first thing to let the sunlight into the room and let your brain know it’s morning.
Read more about snoozing.
Similarly, don’t give in to the desire for an afternoon nap. Instead, do your best to stick to your regular routine and go to bed/get up-schedule. Doing so will help readjusting your internal clock.
4. Time your meals
Schedule your evening meal early in the evening, so that your digestion doesn't have to work overtime. This will help avoid an upset and rumbling stomach. Set meal times helps to create a recognizable daily rhythm and regulate your sleep.
5. Get some exercise – but at the right time
We all know that exercise is healthy and it is also good for your night’s sleep. Nothing feels better than a rewarding rest when your body has been active during the day. However, a jog or session in the gym late at night can possibly make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Read more about the importance of a bedtime routine.
6. Cheat your clock
Don’t worry if you never made it to bed early Friday night. Give it a go on Saturday instead. If that also fails, you still have a chance Sunday night. Make sure to go to bed earlier than your usual holiday bedtime, to prepare yourself for an earlier waking-time. The lack of routines during the holiday creates a condition similar to jet lag so no wonder, that it can be a struggle to get up early again.