The day after Thanksgiving isn't a day of rest for everybody. Some people need to go back to work on Friday. Some sign up to run turkey trot 10Ks or marathons. Others dedicate their day off to volunteering by helping the less fortunate at soup kitchens. But for many Americans, that jump on the long weekend means shopping: waking up early and getting out of the house for Black Friday sales.
Some shoppers, famously, get in line on Thursday night and camp outside stores so they can get a jump on the competition when the doors open. Some stores open as early as midnight to accommodate eager customers fueled by the excitement of getting good deals before inventory runs out.
Maybe you're one of these Olympic-level shoppers. You're itching to save money on big appliances, or keen to start (or finish, if you're the super-organized type) your holiday gift shopping. To you, it may be worth it to sleep in a tent on the sidewalk for one night. You may be totally OK with going to bed after dinner and setting the alarm for 11:45 PM so you can get to the department store at the stroke of midnight.
If you enjoy the adrenaline surge of shopping-as-sport, more power to you. But if you aren't one of those people (or even if you are!), we have a proposition for a different way to spend your Black Friday: sleeping.
Reasons to Sleep on Black Friday
Why spend your Black Friday in your home, catching up on sleep? Here are some reasons:
1. "Sleeping in" doesn't have to be a fantasy.
Most of us are so accustomed to setting our alarms for early awakenings — 5:00 A.M., 6:00 A.M., 7:00 A.M. — only to hit the snooze button every few minutes until we can no longer deny, "It's time to get up."
When we get to work, we fuel up on coffee and complain to coworkers about how tired we are. We daydream about sleeping in, to the extent that getting an extra hour or two of sleep in our beds sounds like an impossible fantasy.
But sleeping in doesn't have to be a daydream. If you have Black Friday off from work, you can reclaim it for yourself and your body. Remember, shopping isn't mandatory. Staying up all night or getting up early for Black Friday sales is not a part of your job (unless you work in a store that's open on Black Friday!). It's not your patriotic duty to get 50% off a duvet cover or 25% off a set of frying pans. Shopping is just one of an infinite number of ways to spend that day after Thanksgiving.
The best reason to sleep in on Black Friday is because you can.
2. You probably need the rest.
Most Americans don't sleep enough.
We brag about how we can get by on six hours or less. We're one of the hardest-working cultures in the world, which is great for the economy but not necessarily the greatest for health.
We're more likely to gain weight, or have trouble losing weight. A host of other health problems come with chronic sleep deprivation. When we don't sleep enough, our immune systems are weaker, we heal more slowly after injury, and we're more susceptible to stress, anxiety, and depression.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, seven to nine hours of sleep per night is what most healthy adults require to be at our healthiest and happiest. But each of us is different, and some people don't feel rested until they sleep eight to ten hours.
You probably know your ideal number of sleep hours. If you're not getting that many hours of sleep per night during the week, why would you cheat yourself out of a chance to pay your body back on a bonus day off?
Napping all day isn't recommended (too much sleep in a single day can throw off your sleep schedule), but an extra 1–2 hours of sleep in the morning or a nice nap in the middle of the day can help to repay a modest weekly sleep debt.
3. No alarm means more REM sleep.
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the phase of sleep in which we dream. When your alarm goes off and pulls you from a dream, that's your REM sleep being interrupted. If you don't set an alarm and let yourself wake up naturally, you're less likely to jolt awake in the middle of a REM phase.
Why is REM sleep important? During the night, you pass through 5 phases of sleep (1, 2, 3, 4, and REM) multiple times per night. REM is considered the "deepest" sleep in each cycle, making up about 25% of the cycle. It's important to achieve REM because it's phase during which you store and consolidate memories and learning. REM also plays a role in maintaining your mood equilibrium.
If you're deprived of REM, you may not retain what you've learned during the day. People who are short on REM sleep may also experience some side effects like depression or a greater likelihood of migraines.
Letting yourself sleep in on Black Friday is a gift to your mind and memory. Those jokes and cherished family stories your relatives told around the dinner table? You'll be more likely to remember them later if you have enough REM sleep.
4. Shopping (and driving) while sleep-deprived is dangerous.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, "Staying up for 24 hours straight and then getting behind the wheel is like driving with a blood-alcohol content that deems you legally drunk in all 50 states."
If you spend Thanksgiving with your family and stay up afterward to get a jump on Black Friday sales, you may be putting yourself and others in danger. Drowsy driving is no joke.
When you're sleep deprived, you're also less likely to make good decisions across the board. Studies show that people are more likely to make poor choices and impulsive decisions when they haven't had enough sleep.
Even online shopping at Black Friday sales can be dangerous if you're overtired. Impaired judgment can you make click "Add to Cart" when you might otherwise click "Add to Wishlist."
5. But if you must shop, you can do it in your pajamas.
The Internet is a wonderful thing for shoppers. If you must participate in Black Friday sales, why not take advantage of technology and do your bargain buying in bed?
Shopping from home has its advantages. You won't have to sit in Black Friday traffic. You won't have to circle a lot or garage in search of a parking space. There's no need to overstuff or empty your car's trunk, and there aren't any shopping bags to carry into the house or to hide from the kids.
Plus you'll avoid tense conflicts with competitive shoppers who cut in lines or reach for the same item as you. (Shoppers who, like you, are likely to be sleep-deprived moms and dads operating on a short fuse.) And you'll reduce your holiday stress by cutting down on the amount of time you spend sitting in cars and standing in lines.
By shopping in your PJs, you'll have more time to spend in nature or to enjoy life with your friends, family, and pets. And isn't that what days off from work are really about?