How to fix your sleep routines after the Holiday season

2024-01-10

Today, the spring semester begins in our schools and for hundreds of thousands of students it is time to get their circadian rhythm in order after a Holiday season with late nights and sleep-ins. In a news feature on Swedish Radio, Christian Benedict, sleep researcher at Uppsala University, gives valuable tips to all morning-tired children, teens and adults.

Christian Benedict, sleep researcher at Uppsala University

"Hard to get up", "Must have multiple alarms", "Rolling out of bed" and "Tired during the day". It is easy to relate to the challenges described by some of our nation's middle school students in a current news feature on Swedish Radio. After several weeks of Christmas holidays and sleep-ins, it's time to set the alarm clock again, and for many, a tough battle against heavy eyelids awaits.

“Teenagers have a naturally shifted circadian rhythm and are rarely tired enough when it's time to go to sleep. During longer holidays, they get the chance to delay their sleeping habits, but for many it results in an increased use of electronic gadgets at night rather than really taking the opportunity to catch up on sleep debts,” states Christian Benedict, Associate Professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences.

Christian Benedict, faculty of Pharmacy
Christian Benedict, Faculty of Pharmacy

This means that many of us are returning to school and workplaces – to be honest, is it really only children and adolescents who turn off their lights a bit too late on holidays – with a strike of Social Jetlag. According to Christian Benedict, it takes about a day per shifted hour before our bodies, heads and sleep routines find their way back to everyday life. So what can we do to ease the process?

“Some tips are to expose yourself to light already in the morning, preferably as much as possible as every minute counts. But refueling with daylight doesn't take us all the way, our evening habits are just as important, so try to reduce the doses of screen light as bedtime approaches. And of course, once you get your sleep routines fixed, be sure to stick to them!”

Studies support that sleep-ins on school days are positive for teenagers, as it enables them to perform better. During the pandemic, many adults also took the opportunity to shift their working days an hour or two. And Christian Benedict welcomes the idea of postponing the school day and, if possible, offering more flexible frameworks for office hours.

“Throughout adolescence, your brain needs plenty of time to rest to continue maturing. But despite the fact that you often find it harder to get to bed you still have to get up at seven to make it in time to school. Personally, I would like every teenager to get at least one good sleep-in a week, preferably on Mondays when the risk of Social Jetlag peaks. And while on the subject: In a time when we are constantly online, I would like all employers and employees to agree on leaving company mobiles and computers at the office when the working day is done. Several companies in Germany have already introduced this, which has contributed to a significantly better balance between work and private life, and not least increased performance during work hours.

FACTS

  • In the spring of 2023, Christian Benedict participated in SVT's Sov Gott, which reached an average of 600,000 viewers per episode
  • In October 2023 he published the book Sov dig till ett bättre liv, in 2018 he published Sömn, sömn, sömn.
  • Christian Benedict's research group studies how disturbances in the circadian rhythm and sleep loss affect health and performance. In June he was granted DKK 9.35 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to study sleep and blood sugar levels.

LEARN MORE

KONTAKT

Christian Benedict, Associate ProfessorChristian Benedict, Associate Professor
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences
Christian.Benedict@farmbio.uu.se

Text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Stefan Tell m fl

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Last modified: 2024-04-04