Weekend sleep (More on Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime)

This week in the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge (based on the nine rules in my most recent book) we’re looking at Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime.

During the workweek, many of us have to wake up at a specific time for work or family responsibilities. We all need a certain amount of sleep as well. Giving yourself a bedtime means going to bed at a time that allows you to get that amount of sleep each night.

So, since I have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, and I need about 7.5 hours of sleep each day, that means my bedtime is 11:00 p.m. This is just math — and simple enough.

But…what about weekends?

For many years this was a non-question for me, as I had young children who didn’t really “get” the concept of weekends. But in the last year or so (something that also happened for a brief window in 2018-2019) I’ve started to be able to set an alarm during the week with the reasonable certainty that the alarm is what will wake me up. And without that alarm on weekends, it is possible that everyone might sleep until 8 or later (!)

So…how does this change things? For me, the answer is that it changes things a little, but not a ton. I aim not to enter the weekend with a sleep debt, but some times by the end of the week I’ve gone to bed at 11:30 p.m. some nights instead of 11, and I might have a little catching up to do. My goal is to allow myself 8 hours in bed, more or less. So lights out tends to be 11:30 p.m. or so. Definitely not past midnight! I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. most Sundays to be ready for church (choir rehearsal starts at 9). Saturdays depend on kid activities, or if I’m running with a friend, but that’s usually going to be 7 or 7:30 a.m. or so. If I don’t have to be anywhere I still generally drift up by 7:45 (which is when my 3-year-old would usually be stirring by too). I think shifting things by more than an hour leads to sleep problems during the week (because it’s hard to fall asleep on Sunday night, then you’re tired Monday and…)

I am not as strict with my teen/tween children on staying within an hour of normal wake-up times on weekends. Saturday I tend to let them sleep longer if they don’t have activities. Sunday I generally wake them up by 8:40 (when I would be leaving for rehearsal). Probably that should be a little earlier, but it’s a compromise.

What about you? What does your weekend sleep tend to look like?

16 thoughts on “Weekend sleep (More on Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime)

  1. I did so, so well with being strict about my bedtime (aided by a sleepless Friday night) and it does make a big difference. I’m not quite so salty when the alarm goes off. I mean, I still need a cup of tea before I emerge from my bed, but luckily that clause was written into our marriage vows.

    1. Those are some insightful marriage vows; I am NOT a morning person. Tea helps propel me out, but what I wouldn’t give to be one of those people who spring out of bed in the morning. This hasn’t happened since I was…8 years old? It’s incomprehensible to me that some people enjoy getting up early?! Though, with kids, it’s basically impossible to avoid.
      I don’t like sleeping in, either, but something like a 7:30/8:00 wakeup every morning seems perfect but that’s just not the way the world seems to be designed for work or schooling.

      1. @Elisabeth – I think something more like 7 or 7:30 would be ideal for me too, but nope, the world is not set up that way. I’m pretty happy with 11-6:30 and I usually don’t feel too resentful about it. 11 p.m. isn’t exactly an early bedtime in the grand scheme of things.

  2. I am generally good about going to bed on time during the work week, but I fall into the trap of wanting to stay up quite a bit later on the weekends. This weekend, spurred on by this challenge, I kept myself to the hour window (going to bed at 11 instead of my workweek 10). It helped! I got up at 7 each day and did something fun. On Saturday I did the grocery store curbside pick up at 7:30, came back and had time to make a fun Saturday morning lunch for the family. On Sunday I went on a 3 mile walk before I needed to get ready for church. Success!

    1. @Sarah – being able to use weekend mornings is a massive upside of keeping to a regular schedule. There’s just lots of time available!

  3. I think I need more sleep than the average bear! I generally get up just before 630, so I should be able to go to bed at 1030, but I am usually asleep by 10 during the week. That makes it very hard to keep to an hour window on the weekends, especially as the kids bedtime starts pushing back as well…

    1. @Sharon – no shame in needing more sleep than average. You’re better off accepting it and building life with that in mind. If it’s any help, most people who need 7 or 7.5 hours don’t exactly use the extra time well…

  4. I try to keep to my same bedtime on the weekend as my weekday, only because it will be harder for me to fall asleep on Sunday. I also have gotten to where if I can’t go anymore, I will turn in earlier than my bedtime.

  5. My bedtime is the same on weekends unless we have social plans that keep me up later. But that pretty rare. Our kids are early risers so we don’t set an alarm on the weekend. This past weekend they both slept in until 6:45 both days which is pretty miraculous. We had a couple of days of 5:20-5:30 wakings during the week – I’m very glad those didn’t fall on the weekend. It often seems to be the case that they are dead asleep when I go to wake them on week days and then up super early on the weekend, but that did not happen this time!

    I’m not getting the emails for the TBT challenge, btw… I got the “you’re in” email when I signed up. I checked my junk mail and don’t see any from you so I don’t know what went wrong!

  6. I missed my first bedtime for this ‘challenge’ after staying a little too long at a friend’s house for an evening drink – making it to bed just after 11 instead of my goal of 1030. To my surprise I woke up without the alarm at 5, when the alarm was set to go off at 6. As I was due at a barre class at 630 I knew that going back to sleep properly wasn’t really an option so I read and dozed on the couch for an hour instead. It’s hard for me to work out my exact sleep requirements – I take a while to get to sleep, and many nights I wake up around 3 or 4 and struggle to get back to sleep, so I’m not sure how to count it. I thought I need around 7.5 hours but my phone tells me I average 7 hours a night in bed so perhaps this challenge will help me work out what’s optimal for me.

  7. I don’t usually set an alarm now that I’m only responsible for looking after myself. Reversing the norm, it’s usually the weekends when I need to get up earlier if I’m joining with my running group, or my husband who is an early bird all the time, so he’s late runs on the weekend are my early runs. Generally I don’t change my weekend bedtime unless I’m out socialising later.

    The things that do interfere with me getting to bed on time apart from socialising are a book I just can’t put down or if I have a really tough session at our evening running group it takes me while to wind down from that. In that case I’ve found it’s better to let my body settle rather than go to bed and lie awake.

  8. In January 2022 I gifted myself a fitbit. This really helped me to see why I was so tired. I was making sure to be in bed for 7 hours but through the fitbit I now know that I am awake almost an hour during the night. This means I’ve adjusted my sleep time to actually be in bed long enough to get over 7 hours of sleep. Too often I only get 6 and a half hours during the week still and that isn’t enough. I had tried catching up a bit on the weekends but it made it worse. My goal during this week of the challenge is to be in bed before 10 am. I have to be up by 5:30 am.

    1. @Shelly- this is an interesting point. I don’t have a fit bit but I do note when I get up to go to the bathroom. I don’t feel like I’m awake or tossing and turning beyond that, though I imagine everyone goes in and out of periods of deep sleep. Whatever the case for me, it feels like 7.5 is enough, because if I’ve gotten that consistently for a week, I will wake up on my own 7.5 hours after I go to bed (like on weekends when I don’t have to be up).

  9. I’ve always had a really strict 10pm bedtime; my body literally knows when it’s 10pm without looking at the time. My legs get jumpy. I just know that’s bedtime. I love sleep… in the week I get up at 6am, in the weekend I’ll often sleep in a little more, but my bedtime remains 10pm 🙂

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