By the time the weekend rolls around, most of us are exhausted. Burnout is at an all-time high in the United States and people, understandably, want to use their weekends (or whatever days they get off during the week) to relax, socialize and sleep in.
But creating and maintaining a weekend morning routine can really help set the tone for the rest of the week. With that in mind, here are five common mistakes people tend to make on their days off — and how to create a healthy morning routine that won’t mess with how you’re feeling on other days.
Mistake #1: Sleeping too late
No one wants to be scolded for sleeping in on the weekends. But many experts agree that blowing past your usual wake time can hamper overall well-being. Research shows that significant variability in sleep and wake times leads to less healthy behaviors overall. Studies have also linked “social jet lag” — the shift in sleep habits from weekdays to weekends — to greater overall fatigue and sleepiness.
“Getting up at around the same time daily helps to set your body clock with light exposure, awakening the body and allowing one to start to build up an appetite for sleep for the following night,” said psychologist Shelby Harris, author of “The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia Without Relying On Medication.”
“Sleeping in on the weekends makes it harder to fall and stay asleep the following night simply because you’re not awake for enough hours to be hungry enough for sleep that next night,” she added, noting that she makes an effort to practice what she preaches and gets up consistently at 6 a.m.
However, not all research knocks catching up on ZZZs on the weekend. One study found that people who were sleep-deprived during the week but caught up on the weekend lived just as long as people who got sufficient sleep overall. (As opposed to people who were sleep-deprived, who were more likely to die early.)
Ultimately, balance is key.
“Sleeping in a little bit is one thing; sleeping in for hours and hours so that you then can’t get to bed on Sunday night is another,” said Debra Swan, a Chicago-based health coach who works with clients around the U.S. She stressed that you should try to keep your sleeping in to an extra hour or two.
Mistake #2: Not hydrating first thing
Hydrating is really important first thing in the morning, Swan said, particularly after a night of drinking. And she really thinks it’s best if coffee isn’t the first liquid you have in a day.
Sipping H2O ― even if you’re not thirsty ― helps you stay adequately hydrated throughout the day. There are plenty of ways to sip it if the idea of starting off your Saturday or Sunday with a tepid glass of tap water sounds meh. Have a seltzer on hand if that’s your preference, or try herb- or fruit-infused water. Your goal should be to try to find something you actually like, so you’re more likely to make a.m. hydration a long-term routine.
Mistake #3: Not making yourself accountable to someone or something
It’s easy to stick to routines on weekdays because we all have someone or something we’re accountable to, whether it’s waking up to take kids to school or to get to work on time.
Try to build that same sense of accountability into your weekend mornings, Harris suggested.
“Kids are frequently a helpful routine alarm, but if that’s not in the mix, consider signing up for a workout class in the morning or meeting a friend for coffee, or even doing your laundry in the building on Saturday morning because it is quiet,” she said. “Accountability is very helpful in beginning a routine.”
Or maybe you want to find an accountability partner, like a friend or family member who can help you if you’re, say, really struggling not to sleep until noon.
Mistake #4: Not prepping for the week ahead
“You should absolutely relax on the weekend,” said Swan, who took pains to point out that morning routines should be really manageable and not feel like a chore.
She knows people need a chance to unwind. Still, she thinks it can be a missed opportunity when people don’t use their time off prepare for the days ahead, and said the mornings can be a really nice time to do a bit of that work.
“The weekdays are so busy, and people have high hopes of meals and eating healthy — but preparation is key,” she said.
Swan often recommends that clients she work with use the weekends to think about any recipes they want to try out, then make sure they have the ingredients they need on hand and do any possible prep work, like chopping vegetables, ahead of time.
That way, you’ve made your life easier for hectic weekdays — and you’ve also helped set the tone for the rest of the week.
Mistake #5: Not getting outside
“Get some fresh air and sunshine,” Swan said, adding that it’s good to get outside shortly after you get out of bed. “Bright light lets your brain know it’s time to wake up.”
Spending time outdoors has all kinds of health benefits, including how people say they feel overall, and research shows that morning light exposure can lead to better rest at night.
Going outside in the morning isn’t the kind of change that’s particularly difficult or burdensome, but it’s powerful.
“How you behave one day influences how you behave the next,” Swan said. “Yes, the weekend is less structured. Yes, it’s a time to relax. But you still want to have a good start to the day.”