- Physiological reasons. Disrupted circadian rhythm and what to do about it.
- Psychological reasons. Deeper hate for Monday may mean deep problems, that people ignore.
- Physical reasons. People hate Mondays because they have to do “everything all over again”.
- Reasons why I love Mondays.
Mondays are evil for some people. I know folks who dream about the weekend. The time when they can lie down, watch TV, eat and sleep, spend time with family, or on their hobbies. Nothing wrong with most of those things. I mean, after 5 days and more than 8 hours of work per day, why not? Right? But, the two golden days fly by like arrows in the wind, and the tale of woe continues – it’s Monday again!
Let’s look at a picture:
- The alarm clock sounds off and you hit it with a force of at least 220 Newtons. (According to physics, it’s a strong slap in your alarm clock’s face).
- It shuts up, but it doesn’t die.
- Five to ten minutes later it attacks your sanity again.
- So, you hit it again.
- This happens one or two more times before you sluggishly open your eyes and they say: CAFFEINE.
- At this point opening or moving your mouth to produce a sentence or a word is unprecedented.
- So, you move your hands and legs, stretch and yawn, and when all is done, yawn some more and then get up.
- Speed of a snail.
- Mission: Make coffee.
- Submission: Drink it.
- First, you smell the coffee while the machine is brewing it.
- FOR GOD SAKES, WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG!?!?
- You don’t yell of course. It’s still unprecedented to move your mouth.
- You feel the hot liquid going everywhere (realistically it goes in the stomach first – I won’t go into details).
Is that picture familiar to you?
How about this one:
- The alarm clock sounds off and you press it with a light touch.
- It softly says to you: “Thank you for not beating me.”
- You jump off your bed and stretch.
- Outside is pouring rain and you say – it’s a new day and everything is possible!
- You make coffee, or even better – screw coffee, you don’t need it, you’re on fire!
- I should stop right here, shouldn’t I?
Don’t forget, in both scenarios – it’s Monday.
I’m not gonna lie. My waking up is a mixture of both scenarios, and my alarm clock is alive and doing well, thanks for asking.
- When I wake up, I do need about 5 minutes (only 5, yes) to come to my senses. Lord help you, if you say one word to me during that painful process.
- I brush my teeth and wash my face, as I can’t drink coffee or tea with a morning breath and unwashed face. Yes, I’m big on rituals.
- You can whisper now. Gently.
- Now I go towards the kitchen and at this point I walk normally, I don’t drag myself and I don’t whine (that takes too much energy). I admire the beginning of the day no matter the weather; I boil water for the black tea and in about 5 minutes I start my tea ritual.
- After I’ve drunk at least 2/3 of a 400 ml cup of tea, you may speak as loud as you want. Nothing can break me. Except a baseball bat. Or other heavy objects.
I don’t wake up too early on weekends (unless I have to). I sleep in for 1-2 more hours. It’s not too big of a shock for the body’s circadian clock. Or is it?
I’ll explain in a minute.
There are physiological, psychological and physical reasons as to why people hate Mondays. We could say that they are interconnected. Let me explain each reason, and you’ll also understand why even 2 hours of extra sleep during the weekend could be a shock for your body’s circadian clock. I still don’t hate Mondays, though.
I like to nitpick when I do research, and when it comes to nitpicking, at least for this post, cough, cough…
The rotation of our beautiful planet around the Sun creates daily cycles of light, temperature and other factors, that are vitally important for countless biological processes. Almost all organisms exhibit circadian gene expression. This means that certain genes are expressed as proteins at a rate that oscillates with a period of about 24h along with associated biochemical and behavioral rhythms. (1)(2)
This leads me to the definition of circadian rhythms – they are the organization of biological activities into cycles that oscillate with a period of around 24 hours. Science now knows a lot about the molecular and neural bases of these rhythms. Moreover, the disruption of circadian rhythms by neural, genetic or environmental perturbations is associated with a range of disease processes and increased mortality. (3)
Disrupted circadian rhythms could be symptoms of Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases, as well as mood disorders, such as major depressive disorder (MDD). (4) Sometimes, though, disruption of circadian rhythms is not a symptom of any disease, but a product of poor time management and bad self-discipline, as well as certain bad habits, such as use of TV or smart phones and tablets before going to sleep.
I try to read a book – not an e-book, but one made of an actual paper, you know – the thing that makes a sound when you turn the page, the thing that can give you a paper cut? The thing that doesn’t shine and emit light in your face? Yes, that thing, yes. A book. With actual pages.
The development of LE devices means that for many people, a “book at bedtime” is now often an “e-book.” Traditional paper books with dim incandescent bedside lighting reflected off the pages of the book, expose the readers to a low-intensity tungsten light with a yellow–red spectrum, that has little impact on sleep. In comparison, the same book read in electronic format will provide a very different light signal with biological effects. (5)
It is important to know that not all colors of light have the same effect. Short-wavelength-enriched light (blue-enriched) is likely to cause the most disruption, as it most effectively suppresses melatonin and increases alertness. (5)
What happens when we watch TV or look at any light – emitting devices before going to bed? Well, scientists give us an explanation that those devices:
- prolong the time it takes to fall asleep,
- delay the circadian clock,
- suppress levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin (The hormone melatonin “the hormone of darkness” is produced at night, with the duration of secretion mimicking the dark period, and its production is associated with sleep. (5)
- reduce the amount and delay the timing of REM sleep,
- reduce alertness the following morning, and
- increase alertness at bed time. (6)
All of that impacts our performance, health and safety.
Harvard Medical School suggests avoiding blue-light 2–3 hours before we go to bed, while the National Sleep Foundation advises turning all electronic devices off at least an hour before bed. Parents who have young children using these devices at night have the ability to either remove the devices from their bedroom, or at least turn them off before bed. (5) For adolescents – it’s a bit more tricky. Have you ever tried to take the phone from a teenager? ‘Nough said.
There are a lot of psychological reasons why many people hate Mondays and usually they are connected to a major stressor in life – stressful job, demanding boss, asshole boss (or coworker/s), being away from loved ones (family, kids, partners, friends), not having enough time for oneself or for hobbies, etc, etc.
It is interesting how stress is now understood as something normal. We’re all stressed. We all worry. We all DO NOT understand what it does to us. But are Mondays really the worst? A research shows that people are in a bad mood from Monday to Thursday, and that their mood improves on Friday, because, of course – weekend is just around the corner. (7)
What about productivity? Is it affected by the Monday blues? Well, a survey made in the UK, shows that productivity to some degree goes down on Mondays, probably because of the need to reorient oneself after two days away from work. It is also possible, that workers’ motivation is lower on Mondays, because that day is the furthest from the next available day of leisure. (8)
The survey also notes, that levels of motivation are higher on Friday (for obvious reasons); and that productivity reaches its peak in the middle of the working week (Tuesday or Wednesday). (8)
I just had an epiphany: every time I went to an administrative unit to file papers (or whatever) on Tuesdays, it was a successful trip – now I know why – workers didn’t bitch about Monday, and didn’t dream about Friday (I assume).
It’s so easy to hate what other people also hate. You go to work, ask people how they are, and they give you a death-stare, which you can easily translate into: “You’re asking me that on MONDAY???”.
Most people hate Mondays because they have to physically “do everything all over again”. Get up, go to work, deal with colleagues, deal with bosses, deal with routines, etc, etc. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Robotic. Do we ever stop and think, that fulfillment goes along the way, and is not waiting for us at the end of the (day) tunnel? Sometimes the finest hour is when you work your heart out in something you believe is a great work, and then you go home exhausted, but victorious – knowing that you’ve done all you can do, that you’ve done your best. Not many people go home with that realization. That doesn’t mean they haven’t done their best, but because they are so concentrated on how exhausted and miserable they feel, they fail to realize, that they are an inspiring bunch to someone else.
SHOULD WE, CAN WE LOVE (or, at the very least LIKE) MONDAYS?
Don’t throw tomatoes at me, but I do love Mondays. Sometimes I work on Saturdays, and sometimes I work on Sundays too, so weekends are not always time of leisure for me. Still, Monday to me represents a new, fresh start. New possibilities, new opportunities. Yes, I know – you’re rolling your eyes right now. Nevertheless, hear me out!
These are few out of the many reasons why I love Mondays:
- Fresh start. Even if I’d work on a Sunday, Monday is the start of a new week, and I have 7 days to take advantage of.
- I’m in control. It might sound weird, but on Mondays I see life from a certain perspective. I’m in control of my life, and don’t need to escape from it. If I don’t like my goals, I would create new ones.
- Fresh kindness. Mondays are a great time of the week to be kind to people and put smile on their faces. Positive energy is contagious.
- Live each day fully and authentically. It makes you feel free as a bird.
- Rub my love for Mondays onto someone that hates Mondays. Yes, I’m evil. Sorta.
See you next time.
- Lowrey PL, Takahashi JS: Genetics of Circadian Rhythms in Mammalian Model Organisms. Advances in genetics. 2011. 74:175-230.
- Hamada T, LeSauter J, Venuti JM, Silver R: Expression of Period Genes: Rhythmic and Nonrhythmic Compartments of the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Pacemaker. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2001. 21(19): 7742-7750.
- Steele AD, Mistlberger RE: Activity is a slave to many masters. eLife. 2015. 4:e06351.
- Campos C.I., Nogueira C.H, Fernandes L.: Aging, circadian rhythms and depressive disorders: a review. American Journal of Neurodegenerative Disease. 2013. 2(4): 228-246.
- Gringras P, Middleton B, Skene DJ, Revell VL.: Bigger, Brighter, Bluer-Better Current Light-Emitting Devices – Adverse Sleep Properties and Preventative Strategies. Frontiers in Public Health. 2015. 3:233.
- , , , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). 2015. 112(4): 1232–1237.
- Stone AA, Hedges SM, Neale JM, Satin MS: Prospective and cross-sectional mood reports offer no evidence of a “blue Monday” phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1985. 49(1): 129-134.
- Bryson A & Forth J: Are There Day of the Week Productivity Effects? Manpower Human Resources Lab Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics. 2007.