How to Achieve the Perfect Lie-In

6 Min Read | By Chris Thomson

Last Modified 23 February 2024   First Added 14 November 2015

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Who doesn’t want to stay in bed a bit longer? A cosy lie-in is not just for Sundays. If your body tells you you need more sleep, you should let yourself get that little bit of extra kip – especially if it’s been a long week. We love a lie-in too, so we’ve done a bit of research, including tips and advice on how you can achieve the perfect lie-in.

What is a lie-in, anyway?

Let’s start with the basics. A lie in, according to Collins Dictionary, is:

If you have a lie-in, you rest by staying in bed later than usual in the morning.

Essentially, if you’re always waking up at 8AM sharp, you may give yourself an extra half hour, or more, to stay tucked up and cosy. This doesn’t always mean just doing nothing in bed, though – many people have a lie in treat with breakfast in bed, or may choose to stay bedbound and watch a bunch of their favourite shows for a good few hours (sometimes known as bed rotting).

Is it "lie in" or "lay in"?

This is a contentious question to answer, but the reality is it depends on your grammar and your regionality.

Both uses of the phrase are correct, with many more people using “lie-in” colloquially these days, especially in a present tense. However, some people may stick to the older rules of grammar, as outlined on the Merriam Webster Dictionary:

If you’re someone who cares about writing and speaking carefully, though, your communication skills will be strengthened by keeping them straight, so here’s the lowdown. Lay’s most common meaning is “to place (something or someone) down in a flat position.” Lie’s corresponding meaning is “to be in a flat position on a surface.” Lay is transitive; it requires that the verb have an object; there has to be a thing or person being placed: Lay it down. Lie, on the other hand, is intransitive. It’s for something or someone moving on their own or something that’s already in position: You can lie down there. You can lie there all day.

 

Mignon Fogarty from quickanddirtytips.com sums it up pretty simply:

You lay something down, and people lie down by themselves.

In the end, whichever phrase you use is up to you – the meaning is, effectively, the same!

The importance of a lie-in

Sleep is an important and essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you waking up refreshed and alert. Adults are estimated to have between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, whereas children and teenagers need more, especially if they are younger than five.

Factors including day-to-day stress, work schedules, not getting enough sleep or being disrupted during sleep and medical conditions can prevent a good night’s sleep. Having a planned extra hour or so in bed is unlikely to do any harm, and could even improve your mood.

How to have a lie-in

Wondering how to have a lie-in and achieve a relaxing and peaceful start to your day? Below are some advice and tips to have a comfortable lie-in and improve your mood for the day.

A white and plant filled bedroom is filled with natural light from the windows.

1. Wake up naturally

Many of your natural daily rhythms (circadian rhythms) are controlled by daylight. So, in order to wake up naturally, you could leave your curtains open slightly to allow morning sunlight into the room. Be aware that the sun rises pretty early during summer!

Another way of waking naturally is to use a sunrise light, otherwise known as a wakeup lamp clock. These fun lights not only look great, but also help emulate the feeling of waking up with the sun by introducing natural-feeling light around your morning alarm. As light can affect our circadian rhythms, and work to help improve sleep, mood and general well-being, many people find this a nice way to wake up gently.

A hand reaches for a black phone with an alarm on a bed, next to an alarm clock.

2. Leave your phone alone!

Avoid hitting snooze on those early morning alarms and switch them off the night before. Rather than having a shock to the system that is a loud alarm on the weekend, you will want to wake up naturally. This will increase your length of sleep without any disruption.

It’s become a habit of many to reach for their phone or tablet as soon as they wake up. However, we recommend leaving that phone alone during your lie-in and escaping the grip of technology. If you grab your phone, you’ll be more likely to check emails, something you don’t need to concern yourself with while relaxing in bed.

Still, if you want to try relaxing with a screen, consider pulling up a comfy movie – maybe something you enjoy falling asleep to – or even consider a game or two to ease you into the day!

 

3. Figure out when to get out of bed

As much as a lie-in is incredible, it can be a good idea to set a soft limit for when it’ll end. Don’t feel as if you have to restrict yourself too much – it’s hard to relax if you’re watching the clock! Instead, consider setting a period of time to rise. For example, if you wake up at the following times, you could try getting up at:

  • 8AM – 9AM-11AM
  • 9AM – 10AM-12PM
  • 10AM – 11AM-1PM

These are just examples, so don’t feel as if you have to stick to them. The important thing is to not potentially lose out on your day because of a lie-in. It should help you unwind and relax, ready for lovely things ahead, or be a moment of peace before things get a bit manic.

Are lie ins good for us?

While there is no problem with taking care of yourself, and giving yourself a lie-in as a treat, it shouldn’t become a regular habit.

In fact, a study from The University of Michigan has found that irregular sleep cycles can lead to shifts in mood and well-being, so while the occasional late rise is fine, try not to make a habit of it.

While playing catchup isn’t the best idea for everyday life, there are studies that show catching up on the weekend can help prevent sleep restriction and induced obesity, and others, such as one from South Korea which found that a bit of catch-up on sleep can help decrease the risk of depression.

All in all, having a cheeky lie-in every now and then is no bad thing. As long as you’re getting good sleep generally, it should help give you a bit of a boost on the weekends – especially after a hard week’s work!

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