- Getting a full night’s sleep is vital for our overall well-being.
- But if you’re regularly procrastinating going to bed, your quality of sleep can be affected over time.
- You can still counter bedtime procrastination with a bit of intention, taking breaks, and getting help from an accountability buddy.
Often, nighttime hours are the only time we have for ourselves. Yet, most people stay up later than intended in favor of activities that offer more immediate enjoyment, such as watching TV, playing video games, or spending time with friends, even though it results in insufficient sleep.
This behavior of sacrificing sleep is known as bedtime procrastination, which research says, is linked to poor sleep quality. Over time, cutting back on sleep can contribute to significant long-term health problems.
Why people procrastinate at bedtime
“Procrastinating at bedtime comes in part from feeling a lack of control over your time,” Dr. Nishi Bhopal, an integrative psychiatrist and sleep specialist, explains to mbg.
She adds that the pandemic, which has extended the working hours of people to take up the bulk of their day, has pushed people to want to stay up late. Also, those who used to commute to work before the pandemic tend to delay bedtime since they don’t need to wake up early to catch the morning train.
But remember that training yourself to stick to a consistent bedtime can improve your nightly sleep. So, if bedtime procrastination is gaining control over you, here are a few steps that can help you:
1. Setting daily intentions
Breaking any bad habit requires a degree of intention. Bhopal says setting an intention first thing in the morning can help you focus on what time you want to go to bed as well as remind yourself why sleep is your top priority. Activities such as taking a morning walk or choosing another morning routine you enjoy doing can motivate you to wake up earlier and sleep on time.
2. Make your days happier and fulfilling
“There’s a feeling of freedom and comfort that comes with [staying up late],” Bhopal explains. So, think how you can access a similar feeling during the day. Make a schedule for things that you enjoy such as taking breaks from work throughout the day or listening to music as you work. Just make sure to take time off if you need to, Bhopal adds.
3. Consider taking a sleep supplement.
To prepare your body and mind for bed, you might want to add a sleep supplement into your routine. Some supplements are designed to calm an overactive brain and boost relaxation, encouraging you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
4. Seek support from an accountability buddy.
Find an accountability buddy who can remind you to go to bed on time. You don’t have to do this alone. Seek help from a friend, a loved one, or a partner if you live with one. Better yet, enlist the help of a friend who also has issues with bedtime procrastination. Together, you can choose a designated bedtime and keep tabs on each other to get to bed at that specific time each night.
5. Take a break—once in a while.
And lastly, remember not to stress yourself out about it. After all, the pressure to fall asleep can wind up keeping us up longer. Bhopal says it’s OK to stay up late and sleep in once in a while — just “don’t make it a regular habit at the expense of your mental and physical health.”
Source: MBG Health