Do you hate yourself? I imagine the answer is no (though if you did, you’re certainly allowed to, and I hope in time that changes). So, then, regardless of your answer…why are you acting like you hate yourself? Or at least like you enjoy torturing yourself.
Typically, we choose to avoid tasks that make us uncomfortable which is totally understandable. But, then we also, at times, avoid tasks that will actually make us feel quite good. One example of this is sleep.
Sleep is not only enjoyable, but it will also make us feel good. We are more pleasant to be around. We are able to function at a higher level. We can regulate ourselves. We also stave off many (many) negative potential consequences when we are getting nightly, regular, and adequate sleep.
So, again, why might we avoid it?
Well, one major reason is because we just want to do other things. We might get too absorbed in another activity or maybe even feel as if we haven’t had time to ourselves yet, so we need to maximize the time we have left before we sleep.
Researchers have also been looking into this. They call it bedtime procrastination. And, it is exactly what you might think: procrastinating on sleep and sleep behaviors.
There isn’t much research on this, from what I have been able to find so far, but there should be. It is so important and something that affects most people at least some of the time.
In this research, their thought was that people that generally procrastinate might also engage in bedtime procrastination. Makes sense, right? If I procrastinate on my work, and then on replying to people, and then on writing this blog, I may also procrastinate on my own sleep for a variety of reasons.
Maybe it is a personality thing. I’m a procrastinator and will just do that for everything.
Maybe it is other practical reasons. For example, if I start my work later, I just have to go to bed later because, regardless of when I start my work, it will take a certain number of hours.
Maybe if I start my day later (i.e., wake up later), then that shifts my entire day, and I end up procrastinating on sleep. One key thing the researchers found was that, this seems to generally be true.
People that woke up later, had dinner later, and ended up procrastinating on sleep.
People who generally procrastinate also end up having later dinner times.
People who also don’t really care about sleep (i.e., they don’t find sleep to be important) will tend to have later dinner times.
This whole idea of later dinner time seems to potentially explain why we engage in bedtime procrastination.
I’ll say two things about this.
1). Yes, when we eat dinner is actually pretty important. You don’t want to have a full stomach when you are about to sleep. So, you need to push back sleeping times in order to accommodate enough time to digest and process your food. That, and, it also means we are metabolizing our food and making use of it when we are still awake rather than if we immediately sleep after eating.
2). Do we really think THIS is the reason for why we bedtime procrastinate? I mean…I don’t.
Maybe you do, however. Either way works. I am sure for some people, dinner time is actually THE #1 reason for why they may bedtime procrastinate. And that is great. I am happy that you have figured this out and now you have a very approachable thing to target and hopefully allow you to stop delaying your sleep.
However, for others, it might not matter, or may only be a consequence of a larger issue. Maybe people decide they really don’t have enough time to do whatever else they want to do during the day because of work, so they decide to push everything back. In this case, they aren’t procrastinators at all, but are actively deciding to eat later so they can squeeze in other activities or just rest before eating.
Maybe there is literally no time to prepare dinner until later at night so they end up eating later, and having to sleep later too because of that. These are all very practical reasons to shift schedules later into the night.
What do you think? What are the reasons why you procrastinate on sleep? Or, do you go to bed at the same time every day? Maybe even happily sleep at the same time every day. Do your reasons fall within the idea of general procrastination or is it due to dinner or is it something else altogether? How actively are you thinking about going to sleep and the quality of sleep you get?
If you could change your sleep behaviors, would you? And if you want to, but haven’t yet, what is getting in the way?