Many of us like to lie-in and spend extra time in bed at weekends, enjoying a much-anticipated break. We maybe have breakfast in bed, read the papers, intermittently doze, catch up on our sleep, get cosy with our partners.
It's a treat of a time, a lovely way to spend a lazy Saturday or Sunday. A lie-in, too, on days off or at holiday time is a great way to manage stress, relax and reconnect with important areas of our lives.
However, throughout the global pandemic every day has become like a weekend for many of us. There's no real pressure to get out of bed. And with many children being home-educated and businesses adopting working from home as their preferred option getting up in the morning has become a more leisurely, less urgent requirement.
But as time goes on is this a healthy way to live? Yes, we all like to lie-in on occasion, but if every day feels like a weekend, are we setting up good habits for the future? Are we in danger of getting used to over-sleeping, so developing an unfortunate approach to our days?
Having a reason to get up in the morning gives us a sense of urgency. If each day feels the same, with no real structure or purpose, it can become demotivational and depressing. 'Why bother, I'll do it another time' may well become the mindset.
Certainly, children's mental health has become an increasing cause for concern, as parents and children alike struggle with parents who are ill-equipped to teach or have other things they need to be doing. Staying in bed in the morning is a way to defer the start of another dreary day, especially when there's no in-person teaching or social contact for children to look forward to.
A January 2021 survey (The Guardian newspaper, 29 January) revealed that more than 80% of teachers had found that mental health among their pupils had deteriorated over the previous two years, with the number increasing to 90% in further education students. Feelings of helplessness, low mood, loss of motivation have all been evidenced. Students refusing to get out of bed, wash, dress or attend classes, instead staying up late at night, gaming with their online friends have become increasingly common.
Whilst quality sleep is an important component in managing stress, health and wellbeing, having too much or the wrong kind of sleep is unhelpful and can lead to apathy, lethargy and inertia. Think of those times when you've had a headache after staying in bed too long at weekends or felt really groggy at Christmas after days of eating, drinking and dozing in front of the TV.
When having a lie-in becomes less of a treat and increasingly part of our regular routine it loses its benefits and charm. Lying-in and over-sleeping then becomes a problem.
- Address the reasons why you're lying-in so frequently. Is it because all the days are merging together, a kind of Groundhog Day, where yesterday, today and tomorrow all have the same aimless, 'here we go again' quality? Motivation, perspective and gratitude can all help to raise the bar a little.
- Reflect on what you do have. Do you live near to lovely countryside, have a pleasant home, food, clothes, warmth, internet access? All these can become invisible after months spent indoors, but focus on what you do have and try to manage each day, one at a time. Appreciate the importance of fresh air and exercise and how it benefits your mood and quality of sleep.
- Introduce a reason to get up. Maybe decide to have an early morning walk in your local park or countryside. Dog walkers are at an advantage as they rarely get to lie-in and often see familiar faces, able to share a little companionable interaction and a few pleasantries! Or might there be an early online class that appeals to you; many exercises classes, network meetings and training sessions have adapted to online, with several being free or nominally priced to attend.
- Have someone you're accountable to, someone who's on a similar wavelength, who appreciates your situation and understands how you're feeling. When you know you're going to be talking about your day it's a good motivator to get up and encourages you to have one or two successes to report.
- Plan the night before, with both fine and rainy day options. Giving yourself something to look forward to can provide the motivation and impetus to get up, dressed and out.
- Commit to going to bed a little earlier. It can be tempting to fritter away the mornings, then feel guilty and stay up late to catch up on things that we should have done. Or maybe we've got used to lounging around, staying indoors with little reason to go out, possibly not even getting properly dressed, intermittently dozing and watching TV into the early hours.
Commit to cleaner habits that bring a little more structure to your days. Then you can really appreciate those times when you do decide to lie-in and relax.