Ever hear the term sleep procrastination? No? Okay, picture this. You’re about to go to bed for the night and you just read that question. Even though you’ve told yourself all day long that you are definitely going to get eight hours of sleep tonight, and it is mere minutes from the time that you told yourself you needed to get to bed, you decide to just read the rest of this article to see what it’s all about. Fifteen minutes later you understand the term, and you just remembered that you need to send an email to your old college body about the upcoming reunion and you may as well do it now since it will only take a minute. And then … okay. You got the idea.
So now that you know what it is, you probably also know that it has some serious repercussions. Not only are you likely to wake up the next day feeling tired and frustrated with yourself for not having stuck to your plan, but you also have had an impact on your overall health, wellbeing and mood. Sleep deprivation can make you gain weight, can make you depressed or overly sensitive, can make driving dangerous, can make you look tired .. .the list goes on and on.
The good news after all this bad news is that sleep procrastination is a problem that has solutions. Take a look at the tips that follow and you’ll find plenty of helpful suggestions for overcoming this bad habit.
1. Stop Energizing Yourself Before Bed
You probably don’t think about it while you’re doing it, but if you’re spending the hour or two before bed playing video games, watching car chases on television, responding to work email, or even working out then you’re getting your blood flowing too fast and your brain whirling too. The hours before bed are meant for winding down. You should be relaxing and watching something interesting but not too stimulating, or doing meditation or yoga exercises, or taking a warm bath. There’s no set time when you need to stop the hustle and bustle – what’s right for one person may be totally different for another. But if you’re busy, busy, busy and you feel like you’ve got tons of energy at bedtime, you’re far more likely to put off getting under the covers then you would if you’re feeling drowsy.
2. Pay Attention To The Clock
Some people just keep going and going into the wee hours because they just don’t feel tired, while others automatically start to feel drowsy once nine or ten o’clock rolls around. The difference is not whether you need the rest – it’s just a question of how powerful the signals are that your body is sending. If you find that the messages aren’t coming through, then take charge of it yourself by setting a reverse alarm that goes off when it’s time for you to go to sleep, and then be sure to keep that appointment.
3. Make Sure That You Make Time For Yourself
Sometimes sleep procrastination is a matter of simply wanting some “me” time, and that makes sense. When you spend your day doing work on behalf of somebody else, you want to spend a little bit of time just doing the things that are important to you, and sometimes late night is all that’s left. Take a look at how you’re spending your day and figure out where you can fit the me time and still have time for sleep too. You may need to leave work earlier, say no to some requests or invitations, or schedule some of it in the morning. One way or another, remember that sleep is me time too.
4. Gotta’ Get It Done
If you’re one of those people who always feels the need to finish what you’re working on, whether it’s a project, a show you’re watching, or a book you’re reading, then you may find yourself putting off going to bed in order to get something done. Best way to deal with this issue is to not start something you’re not going to be able to finish before bedtime.
5. Worried About Worrying
Some people put off getting to bed until they are completely exhausted because they worry that if they lay down and don’t conk out in the first few minutes, they’ll end up lying in bed, staring at the ceiling and worrying about all of the unresolved issues in their life. This may be work or relationship related, financial worries, or maybe something as simple as a project that you really wanted to get done (see number 4 above!). If this is you, there’s a relatively simple solution to this. Go to bed at the time that you need to, and keep a journal or notepad next to your bed. That way, if you find yourself focusing on something stressful or thinking about all of the things that need to get done, instead of worrying you can just jot them down. It may sound simplistic, but experts say that doing this simple act essentially gives your brain permission to stop worrying about the item or issue because you’ve made a promise to attend to it the next day. It works, so give it a try.
6. Disliking Solitude
For those who live alone, crawling into bed can be the loneliest time of the day, and for that reason many people simply postpone it to the detriment of getting the rest that they need. The answer to this is to turn part of the bedtime ritual into something that you enjoy, like doing yoga, listening to soft music, reading a book or meditating. If bedtime also becomes part of “me” time, it changes from a time of loneliness to a time that is meaningful for you.