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Are your sleep problems just you procrastinating?

09-12-2014

Are your sleep problems just you procrastinating?

If you have sleep problems then they may just be you procrastinating. It turns out that not only can procrastination be a problem in your work life, in your studies and your personal life but it can also impact your sleep. In particular, wasting time before going to bed could be at the root of your sleep issues.

Wasting time before bed

A team from Utrecht University has looked into this and found that before bed procrastination is the most recent version of time wasting. We humans are pretty good at procrastination, though some more than others, and it should hardly be surprising that we have managed to turn something as simple as going to bed into an object of procrastination. The researchers found that many of their subjects were mismanaging the time before bed, which was stopping them from being able to make the transition from waking to sleeping in the right manner.

The study

The study surveyed 177 people, examining what they did before bed to see how this impacted their ability to get to sleep as well as their overall health and well being. The study leader, Floor Kroese, defined bedtime procrastination as  “voluntary delay of an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay”. She found that many of the participants were sleep procrastinating and that this had a range of negative outcomes.

Bedtime procrastination

Put simple bedtime procrastination is doing pointless things instead of going to sleep. It is reading yet another gossip article online, it is checking your Facebook page yet again, it is spending your time doing something pointless that does not add anything to your life rather than going to bed.

The results

By prolonging their pre bed routine for no particular reason, she found that many people were limiting the amount of time they spent in the various sleep cycles, which would have an overall impact on their daily and long term health and wellbeing. The people who spent the most time doing pointless things before bed were the ones who reported being the most tired during the day.

“Bedtime procrastination may be a relatively modern phenomenon,” explained Kroese. “We speculate that it is not so much a matter of not wanting to sleep, but rather of not wanting to quit other activities. With the development of electrical devices and the 24/7 entertainment industry, people may be facing many more distractions now compared to several decades ago.”

Conclusion

More and more of us are bedtime procrastinating, there are more and more tools of bedtime procrastination around (we are looking at you, smart phones and tablets) and it is easier than ever to get distracted and not go to bed when we should.

So what can we do? Well first and foremost, you need to make rules, like not bringing your phone to bed, and you also need to try and stick to a strict bedtime schedule. But most of all we need to be determined to improve our sleep health.


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