What are You Doing When You Should be Asleep?

Have you ever found yourself vehemently deciding to get to bed early, and then staying up for hours watching TV, clicking through websites or pacing around the house completing mundane tasks, and never getting that much-needed sleep? Well, Dutch researchers have coined a new term for this vicious cycle: bedtime procrastination.

According to a new study¬†performed at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, “bedtime procrastination is defined as failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so.” The researchers singled it out into its own category, as regular procrastination is usually done for the purpose of avoiding an unpleasant endeavor, which sleep (usually) is not.

The study consisted of an online survey completed by 177 individuals, which included questions centering around lifestyle factors, sleep habits and procrastination tendencies. Those who were deemed bedtime procrastinators often expressed a desire to go to sleep that conflicted with a drive, perhaps even compulsion, to do other things instead.

Lead author Floor Kroese, an assistant professor of psychology, explains, “we speculated that it is not so much a matter of not wanting to sleep, but rather of not wanting to quit other activities.” She adds, “with the development of electrical devices and the 24/7 entertainment industry, people may be facing more distractions now compared to several decades ago.”

Among the individuals surveyed, Professor Kroese found that the individuals who exhibited bedtime procrastination also reported less hours of sleep, and less restful sleep in general. The study authors write, “bedtime procrastination appears to be a prevalent and relevant issue that is associated with getting insufficient sleep.”

Too few hours of sleep, as well as poor sleep quality, are all-too-common in the US, and have been linked to a higher risk of developing a wide range of health issues. These include depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and certain cancers. Poor sleep is also linked to higher stress levels, impaired productivity and an increased risk of early death.

procrastinationProcrastination in itself has been found to have a deteriorative effect on health and well-being as well. As we explored in more detail in a previous article, a 2002 study performed at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario linked procrastination in undergraduate students to higher rates of digestive distress, seasonal illness and insomnia, as well as a greater tendency to smoke and drink than students who did not procrastinate.

  • Knowing the ill effects that both lack of sleep and procrastinating can have, the simple solution for bedtime procrastinators would be to turn off the TV, unplug the other electronics, meditate and go to bed. Setting bedtime for an hour or two earlier than normal, if possible, might help, as it would allow more time to get pre-bed activities out of the way before hitting the sack.

For some people, however, it is not that simple, and procrastination can be an indicator of a deeper mental, emotional or hormonal ailment. If you find you cannot get to bed no matter how tired you are, or how hard you try, talking to a natural health professional or a counselor may prove beneficial in getting you on the right track.

-The Alternative Daily


Recommended Articles