Many of us know the problem of “bedtime procrastination”, we plan to go to bed at 22:00 and end up just watching one more episode on Netflix, or just quickly scrolling through Facebook and co. and suddenly 3 episodes later it is 0:00 and you have to get up in 6 hours…
Procrastination is defined as a “voluntary delay of an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay”(Steel, 2007). Bedtime procrastination refers to putting off going to bed when we know we should, rather than lying in bed and not being able to sleep, knowing that we will be more tired, irritable and get less done the next day.
A study by FM Kroese et al. showed that bedtime procrastination was linked to insufficient sleep and daytime tiredness. They also found that people who suffered from bedtime procrastination suffered from lack of self-regulation as well as procrastination in other areas of their lives.
A study by Nauts et al. looked at why people are bedtime procrastinators. They defined three groups:
- deliberate procrastination: intentional delay of bedtime because participants felt they deserved some time for themselves after a day filled with work and doing things for others *
- mindless procrastination: participants lost track of the time due to being immersed in their evening activities, often planning to “just have a quick peak” at a series or news
- strategic delay: participants felt they needed to in order to fall asleep (more quickly); may be linked to undiagnosed insomnia in some cases
*Dr Christopher Winter, who specializes in sleep medicine, also places high-achievers in this group, people who use this time after work to get even more work done
In our world we are connected 24/7 and have unlimited access (in most countries, I realise there are exceptions for various reasons) to information and entertainment, it is so easy to get caught up in and to forget the actual time, especially when we just plan to have a quick peak at something. It’s like a slab of chocolate- there rarely is eating just the one piece.
I definitely am guilty of being both a deliberate and mindless procrastinator. I often do the work I haven’t managed to finished during the day at night after 20:00, often with the excuse I work better at night. I also often mindlessly get caught up in something that seldomly is really of interest or of value, it is more pacifying than anything else, and admittedly I have a technology addiction problem.
To further worsen things, I tend to bring my technology to bed with me, especially now in Winter, it’s just more comfortable to snuggle up in bed and watch a film from there! So, I don’t stop myself from going to bed, but I stop myself from sleeping.
In an attempt to get better sleep and to reduce my time spent on social media as well as improve my relationship with my partner I removed all technology from our bedroom. Our bedroom is now a cellphone, iPad and laptop free-zone. The only exception I made was the digital alarm clock I bought to replace the one on my phone. Everything now stays in our living room.
It has decreased the time I spend online before bed, but it definitely has another great benefit: I no longer start my day with checking my emails and my social media. A much more mindful way to start the day!
Another bonus is it helps me with my plan to digital detox in an attempt to regain my life!
Blue light, which is emitted from our screens as well as LED-lighting, suppresses melatonin production and messes with our internal clock and sleep cycle, leading to several health problems such as diabetes and inadequate sleep. Ideal would be to stop using these devices 90 minutes before going to bed.
This already has helped me immensely, but for those who have slightly different problems with bedtime procrastination might find some help here!