I hate procrastination. But if there’s one thing I’m most guilty of procrastinating, it’s sleep. It turns out that many other women suffer from what is now called as “bedtime procrastination.” According to The New Yorker, Dr. Joel Anderson from Utrecth University’s Practical Philosophy Department first coined “bedtime procrastination.”
Bedtime procrastination is defined as “failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so.”
We all love the refreshing feeling of a good night’s rest. We’ve all been taught about the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. But between the time we get home and the time we get to bed, there are so many activities we have to squeeze in!
There are many moments when staying up late to finish something is inevitable, but aside from all of the responsibilities that we have to do, bedtime procrastination involves what Dr. Anderson describes as “a foggy inertial state.” If you’ve experienced scrolling through your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feed listlessly until the morning, or opening one tab after another, you must know what this means.
There’s nothing in particular that you’re looking for, nothing productive left for you to do. You know you have to get to bed soon. But for some reason, you just can’t look away.
Whatever your reason is, here are 5 things you could try to get more sleep:
1.) Make an escape route out of that zombie-like state.
The New Yorker suggests, “this could be a timer that switches off your television, or an alarm on your phone—anything to switch off the illicit zombie impulse that makes you keep scrolling through Twitter under the bedcovers.”
2.) Remind yourself that it’s counterproductive.
Some of us want to stay awake to be more productive. Ironically, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania and Washington State University, respondents who were deprived of sleep had poorer mental and physical performance overall. What’s even worse is that the sleep-deprived don’t even realize the decline in their performance! In other words, whenever we give up sleep in exchange for productivity, we are actually unknowinlgy becoming more unproductive. So, from now on, every time you get tempted to stay up to get more things done, remind yourself that you’ll be doing your body (and your career) more help by recharging instead!
3.) Schedule your exercise and caffeine intake strategically.
If you’re the type who needs a daily caffeine intake, schedule your coffee or tea before noon. Anything beyond noon might keep you awake at night. Exercising may help tire out your body, but make sure you exercise at least 2-3 hours before your preferred bedtime or it could keep you awake beyond your bedtime, as well.
4.) Dim the lights.
James Clear suggests using f.lux, an app that dims the brightness of your gadgets when your bedtime draws closer. It’s generally best to keep your gadgets’ lights low for an hour or two before your desired bedtime because it will decrease melatonin production. If you could put off answering emails or going online during these last two hours of the day, that would be great, too. Clear suggests reading a book as an alternative instead.
5.) Be mindful of the things that occupy your time.
Stephen Covey differentiated activities that are important and urgent. Many times, we get preoccupied doing urgent but unimportant things. Unless we become more conscientious about what takes up our time, we’ll never get the important things done. Remember: you only have a few hours from the time we get home until the time we’re supposed to go to bed, so make that time count.
In another talk by Stephen Covey, he asked the audience: “Have you ever been too busy driving, you forgot to stop for gas?” The audience laughed. Of course not. The idea seems ridiculous, but it’s exactly what we are doing whenever we sacrifice our time to sleep.