Bedtime procrastination may sound like something a toddler would do, but many adults actually put off going to bed. While delaying sleep can occur for many reasons, bedtime procrastination takes it a step beyond that and can be detrimental to your health.

What Is Bedtime Procrastination?

Bedtime procrastination is choosing to sacrifice sleep without a practical reason for doing so, such as an underlying illness. Those who procrastinate bedtime also know that delaying bedtime will reduce their overall amount of sleep and could have negative consequences, but they do it anyway. Bedtime Procrastination can look like anything from reading a book to the early hours of the morning or starting to binge-watch your favorite TV show late at night. 

Factors That May Lead to Bedtime Procrastination

There are several reasons why people may deliberately procrastinate going to bed, and many of us have experienced them. 

1. Stress

One of the main factors that leads to bedtime procrastination is stress. Stress can cause us to put off our sleep so we can claim a little bit of time for personal enjoyment. Bedtime procrastination may also be a person’s response to stress as they attempt to find time to recover from the stress they’re experiencing. 

2. Lack of Work/Life Balance

When work starts spreading into our everyday lives, it can be difficult to know when to stop working and when to start doing things for yourself, which can severely diminish our downtime. When leisure time is low, some people will rebel and choose to forego sleep to take back their time by participating in things they enjoy. This is called “revenge bedtime procrastination,” which is a specific kind of bedtime procrastination.

3. Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue occurs when we’ve had to make so many decisions throughout the day that it’s difficult to make one more decision. Our self-control is low when we have decision fatigue, which makes it difficult to discipline ourselves to go to bed. Turning on a movie late at night may become a lot more appealing than sleeping when we have decision fatigue, leading us to procrastinate our bedtime.

Consequences of Bedtime Procrastination

One of the biggest consequences of bedtime procrastination is sleep deprivation, which can cause many harmful side effects. The obvious side effects are an inability to focus and reduced productivity, but sleep deprivation can also inhibit mood regulation, trigger weight gain, be harmful to cardiovascular health, and weaken your immune system; all of which can be reduced with sufficient sleep. 

Overcoming Bedtime Procrastination

Now, if you find yourself struggling with bedtime procrastination, don’t give up. There are several things you can do to overcome it. 

1. Set a Nighttime Routine

Setting a nighttime routine goes beyond brushing your teeth before bed. It’s basically a ritual you go through at night to wind down and signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Your nighttime routine can include anything from taking a warm shower or bath, to meditating or journaling. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is something you look forward to.  By the way, humans thrive on habits, so having a routine will make falling asleep easier over time. 

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2. Manage Blue Light

When setting your nighttime routine, make sure you limit your blue light exposure before bed. Blue light is the type of light the sun emits, and it signals your body to stay awake. However, blue light is also emitted from fluorescent light bulbs and electronic devices, so if you use your phone or watch TV before bed, you’re telling your brain that it’s time to wake up and get going. Limit your exposure to blue light before bed to help you fall asleep.

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3. Create a Soothing Bedroom Environment

Turning your bedroom into an inviting space will make sleep more appealing. An ideal sleep environment is dark, cool, and furnished with a mattress and bedding you enjoy. Keep your space free of distractions so you can fully relax and get the benefits of sleep. 

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Remember, you have the power to avoid and overcome bedtime procrastination. Follow some of the tips outlined here to help you get the sleep you deserve. 

Additional Reading: 

What Is “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination”?

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: A Plight of Our Times?

How To Train Yourself To Go To Sleep Earlier