Why do I wake up early on weekends?


Waking up early on the weekend when you were looking forward to a lie-in can be frustrating. (Picture: Getty Images/Tetra images RF)

We’ve all been there: you wake up early for work all week, and you’re looking forward to catching up on sleep over the weekend when you can finally have a lie-in – only to wake up really early naturally.

While it would be really useful to wake up early without the help of an alarm clock during the week, it can be annoying when you were hoping to have a few more hours in bed.

So why do we wake up early on the weekend when we don’t want to? First, we need to talk about sleep cycles…

What are sleep cycles? 

We sleep in cycles that last around 90 minutes. These cycles involve light sleep, deep sleep, dream sleep, waking up, and then going back to sleep.

Waking up at the end of a sleep cycle might make it feel easier to get up while waking up in the middle of a deep sleep might make you feel tired.

Planning your sleep according to sleep cycles can help you have a better night’s rest or even an afternoon nap.

But what do sleep cycles have to do with waking up early?


Teenager girl sleeping in a white bed. Alarm clock in the foreground on pile of books

Planning your sleep around sleep cycles may help you get a better night’s sleep. (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Why am I waking up early on the weekend?

You could be waking up early on the weekend for a number of reasons.

First of all, if you wake up early with an alarm during the week, your body could be used to your sleep routine. 

This means you’ll wake up around the same time every day, even without an alarm.

So while you may have mastered getting up at 6 am Monday through Friday, your body might not get the memo that it’s Saturday and will wake you up anyway.

Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert and author of How To Sleep Well, previously told Metro.co.uk: ‘The most important aspect of waking refreshed is having a set wake-up time seven days a week.

‘Your body and brain start preparing to wake up approx 90 minutes before you actually do, so if you have a fixed wake up time, the body and brain know when they are going to wake and can thus prepare accordingly.’

Alternatively, you might find that you’re waking up early on the weekend because you’re waking up naturally at the end of your sleep cycle. 

So while you were planning to wake up at 10am, your body might be telling you it’s ready to get up at 8am instead. 

While it might be earlier than you were planning on waking up, you might find it easier to get up at the end of your sleep cycle, than if you were to fall back asleep only to wake up with an alarm during deep sleep.

If your sleep is continually disrupted, you may wish to seek further advice. The NHS has plenty of advice on how to improve your sleep online, but also advises: ‘if poor sleep is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, call NHS 111 or talk to your GP.’

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