How Does A Midweek Day Off Affect Your Wellbeing?

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Back at work today?

Perhaps those of us lucky enough to have enjoyed the Fourth off work don’t have room to complain, but there was something distinctly different about taking a hump day off. In fact, the midweek revelry marked the first time in five years that Independence Day has fallen on a Wednesday, and, from what we've been overhearing today, the verdict is split.

Those in favor talked about enjoying what feels like two mini "Fridays” during the workweek. On the other hand, those opposed complained about feeing tired and unfocused -- not to mention the anxiety of having two “Sunday" nights to anticipate heading back to work.

So aside from messing with our travel plans (forget a long weekend at the beach, unless you’re willing to cough up two vacation days), what’s the real price of a Wednesday off? And is it a benefit or a hindrance to our mental health?

The answer is that it’s somewhat of a mixed bag. “There’s both positives and negatives,” explains Steven Meyers, professor of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill.

On the negative side, the biggest problem is likely a disruption in sleep schedules, Meyers explains. “When you have a holiday such as the Fourth of July, people generally stay up late, but they still have to get up the next morning at the same time,” he says. “This means that there’s typically less sleep after a mid-week, one day holiday vacation.” And that’s not something to be taken lightly -- even one lost hour of shuteye can affect job performance, making you moodier and more prone to mistakes.

The alcohol, cookouts, fireworks and hot temps only compound the sleep problem. "In the short term, it's a balancing act," Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., M.P.H, a sleep researcher and neurology instructor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, told HuffPost’s Sarah Klein for an article published yesterday. While a day off might allow you to catch up on lost sleep, deviating too far from your normal sleep and wake times can leave you feeling groggy today.

“The second main negative is that time away from tasks generally decreases productivity at work,” Meyers says. “People no longer have the same workweek routine, their projects are interrupted, and it takes more time to reacclimate.”

The good news on both fronts, Meyers says, is that time is on your side -- you only have two more days left in the workweek. “The weekend will come very soon and that’ll hit the reset button in terms of sleep and getting back into a routine.”

And, in the meantime, there are also some serious benefits associated with having a day off in the middle of the week, Meyers argues.

In some ways, the mini vacation feels like a bonus -- while we expect weekends off, a free day like this one can feel like having a sale, or getting cash back on a purchase, Meyers explains.

“People’s moods are oftentimes buoyed when they’re looking forward to enjoyable activities,” he says. And that positive attitude can have residual effects, as people remember a fun, relaxing day, even after returning to reality.

On top of that, a short break from work might even make us better employees. “Some work tasks actually improve when we put them aside to get a refreshed perspective,” Meyers explains. “We can approach them with a fresh set of eyes and have new ideas about how to complete the task.”

So you tell us -- did you enjoy or resent your bonus day this week? Take the poll, then tell us why in the comments.

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