If you avoid going to bed at night, your mental and physical well-being will deteriorate. Many people unknowingly have a condition called bedtime procrastination. This is where they delay going to sleep and end up going to bed too late. The result is sleep deprivation and the inability to function properly.
To prevent bedtime procrastination, you must ensure that you make time for the things you enjoy doing. This will stop you from feeling like you need to stay up too late. To do this, prune any unnecessary activities from your schedule and try not to work too late. Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do too much. If you struggle to feel sleepy at night, have a warm bath and herbal tea before bed.
Putting your electronics away 30 minutes before bedtime and setting a regular sleeping and waking up routine will also help you battle bedtime procrastination. While this may feel like a slow and uncomfortable process at first, your internal body clock will learn to regulate itself, helping you fall asleep and wake up at more conventional times.
Why Do I Keep Going To Bed Later and Later?
As described by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, sleep is vital for maintaining body homeostasis and overall function. Going to bed too late has many consequences. For example, sleep deprivation causes excessive daytime tiredness, poor brain function and disrupts bodily processes, increasing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Weight gain and food cravings are other common side effects.
There are two main types of sleep-related procrastination:
- Bedtime procrastination, which involves delaying the act of going to bed
- While-in-bed procrastination, which is the act of delaying going to sleep while in bed
The two are closely linked – you can either have both or one. Sleep avoidance has many causes and names, such as:
Revenge Bedtime Procrastination
If you struggle to sleep at night, you may have revenge bedtime procrastination. This is a condition where sleep is sacrificed for leisure activities, such as playing video games, watching TV, or reading, that you otherwise don’t have time for during the day.
People in high-stress jobs who work long hours are likely to suffer from revenge bedtime procrastination, as it’s their way of taking back control. It’s also most likely to affect:
- People who procrastinate in their everyday lives
The term “revenge bedtime procrastination” comes from the idea that someone is getting revenge on daytime hours that don’t offer time for enjoyment.
Unfortunately, once someone gets into the routine of bedtime procrastination, sleep deprivation sets in and causes serious mental and physical health problems – sometimes with long-term consequences. These factors are key features of revenge bedtime procrastination. You:
- Delay going to bed, reducing your overall sleep time
- Don’t have a valid reason for staying up too late
- Realize that going to sleep too late will have negative consequences, but you do it anyway
Revenge bedtime procrastination is a habit you must break to stop the no-sleep cycle and get some much-needed rest.
Anxiety is often connected to sleep problems because that’s when people think about the things they’re worried about the most. Some people with the condition begin to dread bedtime and stay up later and later to avoid it. That’s because those with anxiety develop excessive distress that’s not proportionate to the situation. Anxiety interferes with everyday life and becomes a persistent fear that can’t be controlled.
Being in a state of constant worry and fear when you go to bed makes it almost impossible to fall asleep and remain asleep without waking up every few hours. In turn, sleep deprivation can make anxiety worse, causing enhanced psychological issues and an endless cycle of anxiety and insomnia.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America, anxiety affects 25.1% of children aged between 13 and 18 years old in the US. It’s also just as common among adults.
Sleep problems are also common with depression. Many people with depression struggle to sleep, so they stay up too late because they know that falling asleep is futile.
Depression isn’t something that people are always aware they have – and even if they suspect it, they attempt to deny it to themselves. Depression manifests itself in a variety of ways, but the main symptoms include:
- Feelings of helplessness
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
- Sleeping pattern changes
- Loss of energy and appetite
- Anger or irritability
While some people with depression sleep more, others can’t bring themselves to get ready for bed, so they procrastinate until they can’t stay awake any longer.
Somniphobia is an extreme fear or anxiety about the thought of going to bed. The condition’s also known as:
- Sleep anxiety
- Sleep dread
No one knows the exact cause, but experts believe that somniphobia results from sleep paralysis or nightmare disorder. Both of these sleep disorders produce distressing symptoms, making those with the condition fearful of going to sleep.
The main symptoms include:
- Fear and anxiety as soon as you think about sleeping
- Increased distress levels as night-time approaches
- Staying up as long as possible to avoid going to bed
- Panic attacks when it’s time to sleep
- Difficulty remembering or focusing on things when bedtime gets closer
While somniphobia’s not the most common disorder, it’s clear why those suffering from it would choose to stay up as late as they physically can.
People with ADHD commonly have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep throughout the night. ADHD causes restlessness that disrupts sleeping patterns, making it difficult to:
- Fall asleep
- Stay asleep
- Wake up
Many adults with ADHA describe themselves as “night owls” who get a sudden burst of energy at night. They also find it difficult to shut their minds off in order to go to sleep, even when they’re tired. When they do finally sleep, it’s restless and uncomfortable, making it a stressful experience. ADHD often goes undiagnosed, but it could be a reason you’re going to bed too late.
Delayed Sleep Disorder Syndrome
Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is a condition when people find it difficult to go to bed until very late at night. If you have DSPS, your body is programmed to go to sleep and wake up around two hours or more than what’s considered a conventional going-to-sleep and waking-up time. The amount of sleep you get is normal (around 6-8 hours), but you can’t control the timings.
Specifically, people with DPSP find it difficult to:
- Fall asleep, unless they go to bed later than most other people
- Waking up at a conventional time due to their internal body clock not functioning properly
It’s believed that people with the condition have a malfunctioning internal body clock. The hormone melatonin and lifestyle factors are predominantly to blame, but scientists still need to do more research into the condition to find out exactly what causes it.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome is most common in teenagers, but people of all ages can be affected. Depression and insomnia are also closely linked to the condition.
How To Stop Sleeping Late at Night
If you find yourself going to sleep later than you should every night, you’re likely looking for a solution on how to stop staying up all night and sleeping all day. You should make some lifestyle changes and stick to a sleep-time schedule to help you get the rest your mind and body need.
Keep a Consistent Bedtime
The chances are that if you’re procrastinating before you go to bed each night, you’re probably not keeping an eye on what time you fall asleep. This means your bedtime’s inconsistent and causing you sleeping issues.
One of the best ways to stop sleeping late at night is to develop a consistent routine. The best way to do this is to:
- Choose a new bedtime and stick to it, and
- Set an early alarm every morning and force yourself to get up
At first, this routine won’t be particularly pleasant, and you may find yourself lying awake at night, struggling to get to sleep. However, setting your alarm and getting up as soon as it goes off will make all the difference, as it’ll eventually regulate your internal body clock, and you’ll feel tired enough to fall asleep once your desired bedtime comes around.
Also, remember that you don’t need to pressure yourself. Choosing a window of a few hours is better than worrying about going to bed and waking up at a specific time. Make sure you don’t deviate from your new sleeping schedule too much at weekends, as it’ll slow the process down and hinder your progress.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can have a negative impact on the quantity and quality of sleep, but there are two separate reasons for this.
Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors inside the brain. Adenosine is a sleep-promoting chemical that the brain produces when it’s awake. The more it builds up, the more tired we become. Because coffee and other caffeinated drinks block the receptors, we remain awake and alert and struggle to sleep.
Alcohol is just as bad for sleep as it’s a chemical nervous system depressant. While it causes brain activity to slow and has a sedative effect, it can impact how well and how long you sleep. When consumed in excessive quantities, it causes insomnia-like symptoms.
While you don’t need to cut caffeine and alcohol from your diet completely, try to avoid drinking caffeine more than 6 hours before bedtime and drink alcohol in small quantities.
Regular aerobic exercise can help you fall asleep more quickly. It also helps reduce daytime sleepiness from where you haven’t had enough sleep during the night. Good examples of aerobic exercises include:
- Brisk walking
- Running or jogging
- Exercise classes
An excellent way to measure the intensity of your workouts is to carry out the talk test. You should be able to talk during your exercises, but you shouldn’t be able to sing. Adopting a regular exercise routine can also help you stick to a better sleep-time schedule. Try not to exercise too close to your bedtime, though, as it’s likely to have the opposite effect.
While short naps don’t usually affect sleep, long naps too late in the afternoon can result in poor sleep quality at night and leave you with too much energy. If you think napping’s the cause of your procrastination problems, weed them out of your daily routine to see whether it makes a difference to how much you procrastinate at night.
Stop Using Electronics Before Bed
We tend to waste time sitting on our phones and laptops during bedtime procrastination while watching TV or playing video games. The 2011 Sleep in America Poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 4 in 10 Americans take their phones to bed with them. This could actually be the reason you’re reluctant to go to bed – you struggle to tear yourself away from your devices.
That’s not all, as electronic devices affect sleep quality. That’s because they suppress the body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that’s responsible for sleepiness. Our bodies release it every evening to help us feel tired and ready for sleep.
A healthy biological clock operates on a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. As soon as the sun rises, our bodies start producing cortisol – the hormone that makes up feel alert. Most phones and hand-held devices emit blue light, which delays melatonin production and encourages the body to produce cortisol. This makes you feel less sleepy and encourages further procrastination.
Try to avoid being on your phone for at least an hour to 30 minutes before bedtime to give your mind and body a chance to feel sleepy.
Establish Bedtime Rituals
Build a better bedtime routine by establishing gentle and relaxing rituals to help you sleep. A successful bedtime routine consists of activities you carry out around 30 to 60 minutes before bed at the same time and for the same length of time before you turn the lights out. Doing so helps your brain recognize that it’s nearly time for sleep.
Some activities you could try include:
- Reading a book
- Practising breathing techniques
- Light stretching
- Playing music
- Gentle yoga
Bedtime rituals also help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, preventing worrying thoughts from setting in and stopping you from going to sleep. They also give you a chance to do the things you love, making you feel more fulfilled and less likely to procrastinate at night out of revenge.
Take a Warm Bath
The Cornell University Medical College explains how a drop in core body temperature before bedtime increases your chances of falling asleep. You can achieve this with a warm bath or shower.
In order to drop your temperature, you need to raise it 90 minutes before you plan to sleep by taking a warm bath or shower. Your body will detect the increase in its core temperature and respond by dilating the blood vessels and directing the flow of blood toward your skin. This releases heat, helping you feel more relaxed and ready for sleep.
Not only does a warm bath get your body prepared for bed, but it gives your mind a chance to relax, unwind, and remove negative or stressful thoughts. Using aromatherapy or essential oils as part of your bath-time routine also encourages deeper relaxation right before bed.
Drink Herbal Tea
The right tea can help you sleep and feel ready for bed. Herbal teas promote relaxation and reduce fatigue, improving your quality and length of sleep. Some of the best teas for sleep include these herbs:
- Valerian root
- Lemon balm
- Magnolia bark
Herbal teas can also help reduce your caffeine intake, making it easier to ditch coffee right before bed. Turn it into a pre-sleep ritual and allow yourself to procrastinate while you brew and drink your tea. As soon as you finish the beverage, start getting ready for bed. Doing so gives you the opportunity to take five without the guilt of knowing you need to go to sleep.
How To Stop Revenge Bedtime Procrastination
While these methods effectively improve your length and quality of sleep, revenge bedtime procrastination requires a slightly more tailored treatment to get you in the right mindset for rest. The condition doesn’t affect how tired you are – you can be exhausted and still struggle to actually go to bed. To combat this, you need to start looking at night-time differently. Here’s how:
Make Time for Your Hobbies
The reason you have revenge bedtime procrastination is that you feel you don’t have enough time during the day for your hobbies. Time quickly slips away when you have a busy schedule, so make time for the things you enjoy doing before bedtime rolls around. Try not to overwhelm yourself by packing in too many activities at once, but spread them out throughout the week for maximum fulfillment.
Prune Unnecessary Activities
Look at your daily schedule with fresh eyes and try to remove some of the things that don’t offer joy or fulfillment. While you can’t avoid all commitments, there’s always room to prune the things that don’t make you happy and are more likely to make you take revenge on daylight hours.
Make Achievable Goals
When thinking about what you want to get out of each day, make achievable goals that you can stick to. For example, if one of your goals is to paint a picture in your free time, don’t stress yourself into thinking that you have to start and finish it in one evening. This is unrealistic and will push you back down the path to bedtime procrastination.
Reduce Your Working Hours
Another excellent way to prevent revenge bedtime procrastination is to reduce your workload so that you have more free time in the evening. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of working longer hours than you need to, but this eats into your free time, giving you less of a chance to do the things you enjoy doing. Finish work at a reasonable time, even if you haven’t ticked off everything on your to-do list. It’s always going to be waiting for you in the morning.
Another thing you could do is to avoid meetings that are put into your diary too late in the day. Meetings tend to overrun, pushing your schedule out of sync, so block out your diary for the last hour of your working day to prevent colleagues and clients from scheduling meetings too close to “home time.”
Those with bedtime procrastination tend to fall into a vicious cycle that they can’t break. This eventually becomes their routine but causes problems staying awake and functioning properly throughout the day. Taking steps to look at bedtime differently can help you sleep more soundly at night without putting it off beforehand.