At some point, everybody has stayed awake, knowing they should be in bed. Maybe you had to catch one more episode, were at a concert, or just needed some alone time.
But do it too often, and that urge to stay awake can adversely affect your health.
We live in a highly wired world that pressures people to stay engaged. There is always one more episode to watch or show recommendation, another text to respond to, another tweet to read, or another app to monitor altogether.
Further, daily pressures and challenges make it hard to carve out time for oneself. That time often comes at night, at the expense of sleep.
About 20 years ago, a group of researchers coined the term “bedtime procrastination” to describe people who go to bed later than planned, even when they knew they would pay for it in the future.
Poor sleep can not only lead to fatigue, brain fog, and increased risk for accidents the following day, but frequent inadequate sleep may increase the risk for weight gain, immune issues, heart trouble, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive problems, and more.
The research found that those who procrastinated significantly about sleep were more fatigued and generally slept less than those who did not.
Sleep, along with exercise and nutrition, is a pillar of health.
One recent small study found that improving motivation for sleep and changing behavior may help people overcome sleep procrastination. Here are some things to consider:
Identify your motivation for change: Bedtime procrastination would not occur if there weren’t positive aspects – you enjoy your show or are experiencing your only quiet time of the day. But you’re likely not looking at the costs it will have the next day.
Weighing the immediate gratification of staying awake versus the feeling you’ll have the next day is essential.
Monitor sleep patterns: Take a week or two to help you realize if you have a problem with sleep with procrastination.
Set a realistic goal: If you know you need to go to bed by 10:30 PM to feel good the next day but usually go to bed at 1 AM, it will be nearly impossible to slice 2.5 hours off of your wake time at once. Instead, take your time and go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night until you’re going to bed at 10:30.
Be conscious of barriers: If you’re staying up late because you feel lonely, you may be more likely to latch on to social media/texts at night. It can become easier to control if you are mindful of why you’re staying up.