The Debrief discusses the possible causes for ‘Sunday night insomnia’, including a person’s biological rhythm and wake-sleep pattern.

Show me an office at 9am on a Monday morning and I’ll show you a group of sluggish workers still heavy with the remnants of (probably very broken) sleep. This ‘Sunday night insomnia’, as it’s been called, is a thing and many of us are experiencing it. One study found that a quarter of people in Britain suffer from it whilst a 2008 study put the figure at 60%. Whatever the figure, the proof is probably right in front of you in the form of your heavy-lidded work mate. As Dr Paul Kelley Research Associate in the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at University of Oxford, says, ‘It’s a miracle that people get to work on a Monday morning having slept and are cheerful.’

But what is it that’s messing with our Sunday night slumber? As usual, there’s a number of things at play. First, it comes down to the type of biological rhythm you naturally have: the wake/sleep pattern that you’d have if you were left to your own devices, free from the restrants of work or commitment. ‘If your normal wake/sleep pattern is very different from your working schedule then you’re more likely to find Monday a problem,’ Dr Paul Kelley explains. His study into the most sleep deprived section of society (14-24 year olds) argued the case for later school times in order to fit the natural rhythm of young people. ‘Very few people have a wake/sleep pattern that fits their employment, unless you’re self employed.’

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