When we hear the word “procrastination,” most people think of work. Procrastination is not something we automatically associate with bedtime or sleep. However, a new type of procrastination has been identified, and it particularly affects our behavior in the bedroom. With the influx of technology and the various ways we entertain ourselves after work hours, it comes as no surprise that even at the moment that we’re about to rest, we still manage to put it off.
What exactly is bedtime procrastination?
A study carried out by a set of researchers in Utrecht University in the Netherlands defines bedtime procrastination as “failing to go to bed at the intended time while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so.”
Bedtime procrastination basically means the person delays going into bed, even when they know that they will be deprived of hours of sleep if they do not hit the sack soon. This is something all of us do. “Just one more episode and I will go to bed after.” Are you familiar with this line? Yes? Well, then you are a bedtime procrastinator.
Is bedtime procrastination bad for you?
Yes, it is bad for you. Bedtime procrastination makes you lose hours of sleep. And unlike other types of procrastination, bedtime procrastination makes you feel tired and groggy the next day due to inadequate sleep.
Every person should ideally have at least 8 hours of sleep a day, but when you procrastinate, you lose your hours of sleep and this is not good for you.
Eventually, you'll face a number of negative consequences. You'll have dark circles under your eyes and your overall energy and productivity suffers. Lack of sleep affects your skin and even dulls your memory. If you sleep less than six hours a day, you are more likely to gain weight and have a higher body mass index.
Sleep deprivation also contributes to other medical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, poor mood, and weakening of the immune system. And since your risk for these diseases has increased, sleep deprivation then reduces your overall life expectancy.
Therefore, good sleep hygiene is a must. You need to regularly get at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Sleep allows your body to rest and undergo repair and rejuvenation. Sleep sharpens your memory and makes you more energetic. When you have adequate sleep, you secrete hormones that will help control your appetite and metabolism, thus improving your overall health.
How can you overcome bedtime procrastination?
The following tips may be helpful for you to overcome bedtime procrastination.
1. First and foremost, you need to know and understand what it is that's preventing you from sleeping.
Note what you do at night that keeps you from going to bed and think about it. Think why you do it. If you are staying up to catch up on the things you failed to do during the day, identify why you failed to do them and try to rectify it.
2. Find the right time to sleep.
Observe how many hours of sleep you need each day. If you need only 6-8 hours of sleep to function properly, adjust your bedtime. As much as possible, avoid taking naps in the middle of the day. Do not force yourself to go to bed early as this only wastes time, leaving you tossing and turning while you force yourself to sleep. Instead, strive to go to bed at the same time every night. This works toward good sleep hygiene by establishing a regular sleep pattern.
3. Don’t set a specific time to go to bed.
Setting a specific time to go to bed will only pressure you. Instead, set a bedtime window like an hour or so. So within that hour, you can go to bed anytime you want. This will avoid pressure on yourself to go to bed.
4. Avoid having coffee or drinking alcohol close to bedtime.
Caffeine is a well-known stimulant and thus should be avoided about 6 hours before bedtime. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant. Although it may make you sleepy, alcohol disrupts your sleep and may even cause nightmares.
5. Do not eat right before it is time to hit the bed.
Eating heavy meals before bedtime triggers your body's metabolism, making it difficult for you to fall asleep. It can also provoke acid production in the stomach, which may eventually develop into Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
6. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting activities before going to bed.
Anything that stimulates or upsets your senses must be avoided. It is best to do things that relax your brain such as reading, meditating lightly, or listening to ambient music.
7. Do not watch TV while you are in bed.
Do not use your bed as a living room couch. According to a 2015 study in Norway, there is a strong relationship between the use of electronic devices and sleep deprivation. Therefore, limit the use of technology before you go to bed or while in bed. Make it a habit. In fact, you can allocate a separate time during the day to catching up on your favorite TV series instead of right before bedtime.
8. Get used to a regular sleeping pattern.
Just because you set a specific time to go to bed does not mean it will automatically make you sleepy. You might still struggle to fall asleep.
Thus, it is best to create a habit around the same time each night--switch off all electronic devices before bedtime, change into comfortable sleepwear, and practice relaxing activities as you prepare to sleep.
9. Exercise in the morning for better sleep.
Daytime exercise helps improve the overall quality of your sleep. However, timing is very important. Moderate to regular exercise should be done in the morning or in the early afternoon rather than a few hours before bedtime. You may opt for more relaxing exercises in the evening such as light yoga and meditation.
10. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep.
Nothing is more inviting than a comfortable bed with clean, cool sheets. Room temperature is also important. Try to maintain just the right temp--not too cold or too hot. Choose dim lights. This will create a relaxing ambience in your bedroom. Avoid working in bed. It is best that your body associate your bedroom to the idea of sleep so it will eventually recognize relaxation and rest every time you're in the bedroom.