5 quick bedtime tricks to make Blue Monday a bit less miserable

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The third Monday in January - Blue Monday aka the most most miserable day of the year – is here again, bringing with it a general sense of doom and gloom. And while the 'science' designating Blue Monday the worst day might not add up, there's no doubt many of us find January to be a bit of a slog.

But I'm determined not to let January get me down, and while others might think a get-up-and-go approach is the only way to beat the blues, I'm leaning into the low-key vibe of this month. I plan to use good sleep to get me through Blue Monday, and I'm using some very simple steps to achieve it.

To get good quality sleep, I always recommend investing in the best mattress. But I'm also being realistic – it's mid-January, a new mattress might not be on the cards. Instead, here are three easy and achievable ways to supercharge your sleep, for a fresh start to Blue Monday.

What is Blue Monday?

Blue Monday is a name given to the third Monday in January, which is, supposedly, the most miserable day of the year. This date was chosen using a combination of factors: the generally bad weather, money worries after Christmas, holiday cheer ebbing away, low motivation levels, and guilt over abandoned new year's resolutions.

A woman waking up in bed after a bad night's sleep

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But it's worth noting Blue Monday was created by psychologist Cliff Arnall as a marketing gimmick for a travel company. He put together a formula that combined those various miserable factors mentioned above, and declared the third Monday in January the outcome. The science behind choosing this date doesn’t really hold up under close examination (or any examination), and even Cliff has since turned his back on his formula. 

However, despite any real evidence, the concept of Blue Monday took off, and most of us can agree that mid-January often feels like a long, miserable stretch. So, while designating Blue Monday the worst day of the year might be pseudoscience, it does tap into a feeling we're pretty familiar with.

How to beat Blue Monday with good sleep

Good quality sleep really can improve your mood, and these three tips are easy to accomplish even in the midst of that mid-January slump.

1. Add some light to your mornings

Waking up in the dark is difficult. Our circadian rhythms are naturally attuned to daylight, telling us to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. When your alarm rings in the pitch black, both your brain and body are wondering why you're getting out of bed. And as the sun doesn't rise until 8am this Blue Monday, there's a good chance you'll be starting your morning in the dark.

A man opens the curtains to the windows in his bedroom, letting morning light in

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Adding some artificial light can help suppress the sleep hormone melatonin, so you wake up better and shake off that groggy feeling faster. A wake-up light is an excellent choice, as it slowly fills the room with light, mimicking a bright summer morning for a gentle awakening. For a free alternative, try turning the ceiling light on when your alarm goes off. It can give you a little more motivation to start the day, even on Blue Monday.

2. Read for five minutes before bed

Reading before bed can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, which is great news if pesky little worries are keeping you up at night. Blue Monday is a time many of us spend ruminating on regrets, especially those ones that pop up at 3am. While reading won't guarantee a stress-free night, it can quiet the mind to help you drift off.

A woman reads a book in bed before going to sleep

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By mid-January, many of us are also feeling the shame of an already-abandoned resolution (sorry, gym membership). Instead of letting guilt get you down, pick a new new year's resolution, one that you'll find easy to keep: read a few pages of a book before bed every night. Just six minutes of reading can help you sleep and if you choose a book you love, it won't feel like work at all. 

3. Refresh your sleep posture

Money can be a worry this time of year, so while a new mattress and one of our best pillows might work wonders for your sleep, I'm suggesting some budget-friendly ways to refresh your sleep setup.

A man reaches out of bed to turn off his alarm clock

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Consider adding some pillows – but not under your head. A pillow between your knees and a pillow hugged to your chest can help you maintain a comfortable side sleeping position. Side sleeping is considered one of the best positions to sleep in, and can help you avoid aches and pains when you wake up.

4. Tidy your room (a bit)

My second piece of advice for a better sleep setup – and I'm sorry about it – is that tidying your room can help you sleep better. Mess creates stress, while a tidy space is much more soothing. If that sounds like too much work, here's a tip: only tidy the places you can see from your bed.

A woman asleep in bed with her head on a pillow

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5. Get cozy

Soothing sounds can help our brain wind-down and switch over to sleep mode. There's plenty of free white noise for sleep available online, from babbling brooks to whirring fans. You can listen to them during the night, or integrate them into your pre-bed routine. Or craft your own ASMR soundscape, using sounds you associate with contentment and happiness.

And if you really want a cozy sleep set up, consider purchasing a weighted blanket. The best weighted blankets apply an even and reassuring pressure that feels surprisingly soothing, and can potentially help you sleep when you're stressed.

Ruth Jones
Staff Writer

Ruth is TechRadar’s Sleep Writer. She’s here to help you find the perfect sleep setup for your budget and personal preferences. As well as keeping a keen eye on everything that’s going on in the world of mattresses, she regularly speaks to experts to help you learn how to improve your sleep habits, whether that’s by debunking sleep myths or explaining the science behind it all. Prior to joining the TechRadar team, she wrote features and product guides for new parents hoping to get a decent night's sleep, as well as writing for a variety of online spaces.