Thanks to an unusually late Easter and the annual abundance of bank holidays at the top and tail of May, most of us have got an awful lot of time off to be looking forward to. No matter how we spend that time away from work – at home with our families, taking a short break away, going out with our friends or getting something productive out of the way around the house – we all seem to share the intention of taking some much needed time for ourselves.

Obviously, we look positively on bank holidays, but we do take these for granted, somewhat. For example, do we really know why we are given these days off by the government? And what is the thinking behind them? Luckily for you, we’ve had our thinking caps on and done some research into the matter – and the results touch on health, happiness, wellbeing and self-care - far more than we’d anticipated!

Why Do We Have Bank Holidays?

National holidays don’t existent everywhere, and while some are more self-explanatory than others – New Year, Easter and Christmas chief amongst them – some are more mysterious. So, what are the reasons behind the upcoming spring and summer bank holidays?

As the name might suggest, their origins come from the dates on which banks would be closed in the 19th century, as back then, bank employees weren’t entitled to any other leave. Around that time, only religious days were given as national holiday. However, over time, the government standardised this practice and created the Bank Holiday Act, which has been amended and updated on several occasions over the years to form the basis for what we have now.

In times gone by, the 8 days we receive now were actually 33 – but we’re not too sure annual leave existed at that point!

Flexible by their very nature, we do enjoy additional days off on occasions such as royal weddings – last seen when Prince William got married – and there will be a day of mourning when such a time comes that the Queen passes, too. Different across the United Kingdom, depending on which country you work and live in, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do differ on which dates they hold their bank holidays, which is an odd quirk of the system.

Still a hot button issue, as part of the last general election the Labour Party had draft proposals to increase the number of bank holidays given to workers, with St Georges Day flagged early on as one of the potential additions – so what we have now is by no means set in stone and can be amended by the government as and when they choose.

Read more: Burnt Out on Both Ends: How Long Can You Go Without Sleep?

Does Time Off Work Make Us Happier?

In short – yes!

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Having time to ourselves to enjoy what we’ve worked so hard for is naturally a good thing, and our happiness can be improved and impacted if we spend that time away from work wisely.

Studies have suggested that quality time off will help us produce more dopamine – a chemical in the brain heavily linked to our moods – which will naturally put us in a happier state. Wasted time, however, is likely to have the opposite effect. So, it’s less about having the time off and more what you do with it.

Is Our Productivity at Work Affected by Time Off?

Again, this would be a big positive yes!

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Giving you the energy you need when you do eventually go back in to work, having that time to enjoy what you work hard for and reap the rewards of all that effort revitalises your work ethic, and allows you to better see the positive side of putting all of those hours in. No matter if it’s a short break or a major holiday, any stint of time that’s invested in yourself should help when the time comes to get your head back down in the day job.

How Does Rest Aid Our Health?

One of the greatest joys of time off is the ability to turn off our alarms and go to bed knowing that we will wake up when we’re ready to, rather than when is needed. While it’s easy to suggest that getting enough sleep is achievable during the week too – going to bed earlier, having the right routine, making your bedroom better geared to help you drift off – these are hardly stress-free nights and don’t offer the same rest as a night when you’ve got nothing but free time to wake up to.

Read more: Sleep, Glorious Sleep: 8 reasons You Should Have a Lie in at the Weekend

Sleeping poorly is a negative in many, many ways. One of the fastest ways to put on weight, lose productivity, harm physical performance, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, slow down your metabolism, put you in risk of diabetes and make you more prone to bouts of depression – sleep is one thing that we cannot function properly without.

So, with that in mind, it is important to invest in a quality bed and mattress this bank holiday to ensure you have the best rest possible.

Browse our range today to improve your sleep without breaking the bank.

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