If you’ve ever struggled to fall asleep on a Sunday night, you are not alone. A new study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that the “Sunday Scaries” are real, and Gen Z and Millennials are feeling the brunt of it.
‘Sunday Scaries’ Explained
While a diagnosis of the “Sunday Scaries” might seem laughable or sound like something out of a kindergarten-level picture book, it is a very real phenomenon, and it could be a sign of something far more serious.
Essentially, the Sunday Scaries are a tangle of fear, anxiety, and dread that usually hits most folks when the weekend starts to wind down. For many, the “Sunday Scaries” strike just ahead of the work week (or school week) and often keep them tossing and turning on that dreaded night. While the “Sunday Scaries” might be limited to one night for some, others may begin to feel its effects creeping in as early as Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon.
Common symptoms of the “Sunday Scaries” include:
- A sense of dread or impending doom
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- A racing heartbeat
- Trouble sleeping
- Depression (in prolonged or extreme cases)
How Common Are the ‘Sunday Scaries’?
The AASM survey shows that approximately a third of Generation Z (32 percent) and Millennials (34 percent) report that compared with other nights of the week, they “always, almost always or often” have a harder time falling asleep on Sunday nights. And what are they thinking about when they’re lying awake? The survey shows that 73 percent of Americans lose sleep because they’re worried about work.
Why Gen Z and Millennials?
While smartphones have made life exponentially easier in many ways, they come with a trade-off — 24/7 availability. When you pair hustle culture with an “always-on” mindset, it’s easy to see what’s keeping Gen Z and Millennials up on Sunday night.
How To Combat the ‘Sunday Scaries’
To get a grip on your “Sunday Scaries,” you might consider a bit of mindfulness and a few tweaks to your bedtime routine. Here’s what experts advise us to do.
Get Prepared on Friday
Before checking out on Friday afternoon, take some time to get your calendar in order and create a Monday to-do list. If your job is the culprit (and it looks like that’s the case for 73% of you), it might be time to address your work-life balance, reach out to your supervisor, or maybe hit the classifieds.
As you wade through your Sunday or while you’re lying awake on Sunday night, make a note (mental or otherwise) of what’s eating you. Be mindful of what you’re feeling and triggers. Sometimes awareness is half the battle.
Write It Down
Very often, we lie awake at night because of the “stuff” that’s weighing on our minds, things we don’t want to forget, etc. The simple act of writing it down and “putting it somewhere” for safe keeping can be indispensable for finally catching some z’s. And if you’re thinking about Monday morning, your journal can pull double duty as a to-do list.
Shake Up Your Schedule
Sunday tends to be the day many people reserve for the not-so-fun stuff. But by putting off the laundry, house cleaning, and myriad other responsibilities, you’re only compounding your negative feelings toward the day. If you’re prone to the “Sunday Scaries” you might try changing up your schedule and do something relaxing and fun on Sundays instead.
Maintain A Consistent Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids. The fact is that bedtime routines can improve both sleep duration and quality. So, when next Sunday rolls around, think about dimming the lights in your room, putting away your screens, and taking a bath or relaxing with a good book to keep the “Sunday Scaries” in check.
Sharon Brandwein is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and a freelance writer. She specializes in health and beauty, parenting, and of course, all things sleep. Sharon’s work has also appeared on ABC News, USAToday, and Forbes. When she’s not busy writing, you might find her somewhere curating a wardrobe for her puppy.