Want a highly productive week? Avoid the Monday Jetlag

I’m writing this on Saturday morning. Sabbath? I’ll start it later.

The weekend before was crazy (turned night into day, drank enough to kill an elephant, and slept only half of the required dose). It took me all week to get back into my productivity-beast-shape. Now I’m here. The next weekend. The weather is better than ever. And I’m working because I haven’t been productive Monday to Wednesday… like not at all.

For me, and for so many of us, the weekend is a trap.

Instead of feeling completely refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the world, we barely make it out of bed on Monday morning. What a start to the new week?

Let’s look at the Monday jetlag and how to avoid it. Dig in.

Monday Jetlag

Yeah, sounds silly.

You and I, we create a mini-jetlag every weekend…

Let me explain:

You work Monday to Friday in the office (or wherever you work). And you get up at approximately the same time every day. So your body gets accustomed to your sleep/wake rhythm during the work week. And then it comes, the shocker: Weekend. (You know the motto: TGIF.)

What happens? You don’t go to bed at the usual time on Friday night. No, you stay up super late because you can sleep in on Saturday, right? The next morning you may even wake up automatically at the usual time as your body thinks that’s the time to get up. But no, you went to bed late, and finally you can stay in bed in the morning, so you definitely snooze for some more well-deserved hours. Classic.

Then you enjoy your day off. Half of the weekend feels already gone. And now, Saturday night is the night of the nights. You choose one or more of the following:

  • Live your party animal
  • Have a late dinner
  • Go to the movies
  • Meet up with friends
  • Watch the late-night show
  • Enjoy a romantic evening with your spouse

Whatever you do, it gets late. And it’s no problem, because you can sleep in on Sunday.

Now it’s Sunday. You live through the day, already looking forward to Monday morning… ;-) And Sunday night you do it again: You shock your body by going to bed earlier than Friday & Saturday. But guess what?! You can’t fall asleep because you just got up by noon. Bummer.

And this time you can’t sleep in. You need to get up super early on Monday morning… That’s the complete jetlag.

Let the numbers speak for themselves:

  • You go to bed at 10pm Sunday to Thursday
  • You get up at 6am Monday to Friday
  • You go to bed at 2am Friday & Saturday
  • You get up at 10am Saturday & Sunday

That’s like a different time zone of 4 hours.

Shifting your sleep/wake rhythm on the weekend is like traveling from the East to the West Coast on Friday and back again on Sunday…

Insane.

Recap: By completely changing our sleep/wake rhythm on the weekend we create a mini-jetlag. And that’s why we feel dead tired on Monday morning… the so called Monday blues.

And that sucks because we won’t be highly productive… So,

What’s the solution?

Let’s face the truth: There is no straight-forward solution. We probably can’t turn night into day on weekends and fully recover until Monday 6AM. It’s just not natural.

Now, I’m not suggesting we should live like Saints and never go to bed late and never sleep in. That’s absurd.

I just think it’s important to be aware of the consequences of knocking your sleep/wake rhythm on the head every weekend. It creates a jetlag and therefore it’s tough getting up on Monday.

With that in mind, we have certain options. We can ask ourselves on the weekend:

“Is it worth the jetlag?”

  • “Yes. I’m a party animal!” → Go for it!
  • “Hmm. Maybe I’ll skip this weekend.” → Go to bed at the usual time and feel fantastic all weekend AND Monday morning.

Let’s be realistic though. In many cases the weekend with its long nights is the main of a few opportunities to meet up with friends, have some time off, and just enjoy the social life that often comes short during the work week.

So again, what’s the solution?

1. Plan ahead

Do you want to be super productive next week? (Of course… I mean who doesn’t?) Then plan ahead so you don’t need to violate your sleep/wake rhythm. Keeping your rhythm 7 days a week is a bomb for your productivity. Try it.

If we want the social life without turning night into day, we need to plan it ahead. We can schedule meeting friends for coffee in the afternoon. We can plan a family visit to the zoo, Disneyland, or waterpark ahead so we can leave early morning and not get off rhythm. Basically, we can do most of the cool weekend things during the day if we plan it ahead.

This helps me a lot. If I plan activities for the weekend, I actually get a lot more social life and fun, plus I can start Monday in my productivity-beast-shape…

2. Cheat with melatonin

There’s a way I can get the icing on the cake (party like a tiger and still get up Monday morning in optimal manner).

So here’s the cheat: Supplement with melatonin on Sunday night so you fall asleep easily and sleep like a baby. That way you get high quality sleep and adjust your sleep/wake rhythm. I recommend a small dose of 0.1 to 1mg 30–90 minutes before bed. Beware: It’s a hormone, so don’t overdo it by taking it every night.

And there you have it — you’re aware of the Monday jetlag and you know how to avoid it. There’s really no magic to it. Either you keep a regular sleep schedule or you cheat. Simple as that.

Do you have another trick to avoid the Monday jetlag? I’m always looking for an extra edge on my path to becoming the best version of myself. I appreciate any tips or tricks or general feedback. Thanks.


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