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How to Stop Sleep Procrastination

How to Stop Sleep Procrastination

Who doesn't love to sleep? Getting all snuggled up in bed before drifting off and enjoying a good dream…there's nothing better! But some people may actively try to put off sleep for certain reasons, which can harm their sleep schedule.

If you find yourself going to bed later than you want and then feel frustrated because you are so tired in the morning, you are suffering from sleep procrastination - and you need to do something about it. But there's no one reason we procrastinate on sleep, so we've looked into the top five reasons and how you can stop to get a good night's rest!

5 reasons people sleep procrastinate

Time for yourself

1. The need to finish

We've all been here at some point - you've started something and just have to finish it before you sleep. It could be a film that will run way past your usual bedtime, but you're so into the plot that you just can't stop now! So you stay awake longer than expected to finish it and find yourself going to bed an hour or two later. Not only does this lead to you staying up longer than you should, but the blue light from the screen can also disrupt your sleep and make it harder to fall asleep once you've finished.

Other people may find their sleeping Achille's heel is the book they're reading. When the plot gets so intense and intriguing, you just think to yourself, 'Just one more chapter', which then devolves into you having read half the book or even finished it, and it's three in the morning.

There's an obvious solution to this problem - don't start something that you know you won't be able to finish before bedtime! If you're about to watch a film, look at the time and work out if it will run past when you need to go to bed. If it does, then just add it to your watchlist for the next night! Alternatively, you might want to learn to stop an activity after a specific time. It might be annoying, but you'll enjoy your film or book better the next day when you're refreshed from a whole night of sleep.

Feeling lonely

2. Feeling lonely

This one's a little more personal, but it's sadly common for many people. If your relationship has ended, you may delay going to bed because you associate bedtimes with cuddling up to someone. Your empty bed triggers feelings of loneliness, and this causes you to pause going to bed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, loneliness can directly impact when you go to sleep and the amount of sleep you get. Studies have found that men and women who live alone and report feeling lonely are likelier to have sleep problems than those who don't.

It can be hard to overcome quickly, and it may even take months until you feel comfortable enough to sleep alone without feeling lonely. But the number one tip we'd give is to make going to bed something enjoyable. You need to make new memories that will allow you to associate going to bed with happiness, even if you're alone! Read a chapter of a book or listen to an audiobook or podcast to let your mind relax; you could even try playing some soothing music! Mind, the mental health charity, has plenty of tips on managing loneliness if you find yourself struggling with this.

Over-thinking

3. Thinking too much

Many people have thoughts and feelings whizzing around their brains when they go to bed and delay bedtime. Maybe you've got a big event, are stressed about work, or are just someone who creates stories in your head before sleep. Either way, it can be annoying, and your sleep can suffer from your mind being unable to relax.

The way around this is to go to bed with a journal, write down your thoughts to get them out of your head and relax. Journaling has many great mental health benefits, as it can help you to cope with challenging situations or simply figure out why you're feeling a certain way. If you're feeling angry, then writing down all the things that are currently bothering you can help you to come to the root of the problem, which means you can then work on fixing it!

Try meditation if you're not a fan of writing down your thoughts. It's scientifically proven that meditation helps reduce stress and anxiety, which means a lower heart rate and blood pressure. Emptying your head of annoying thoughts can be much easier if your body is relaxed and calm!

Time for yourself

4. Needing time for yourself

If you have a busy job working with a team of colleagues and come home to your family's demands, late at night is the only time you can have to yourself. You then find yourself staying up later and later to enjoy this “me” time. The term for this is 'revenge sleep procrastination', common in people with high-stress jobs. People will willingly sacrifice sleep to enjoy personal time; otherwise, they don't get much leisure time during the day.

Wanting time to yourself is understandable, but you also need enough sleep. One way around this is to allocate time during the day to you. Instead of lunch with colleagues, go for a walk to think and reflect. When you spend time alone at night, create a strict time limit that enables you to retire early enough for a good night’s sleep.

Medical reasons

5. Medical reasons

For some people, the reason they sleep procrastinate at night is due to medical reasons. Sleep problems, including sleep procrastination, are particularly common in people with ADHD. If you have ADHD, you may have recognised many of the possible causes listed here as something you experience. That's because many of these are common reasons that people with ADHD suffer from sleep procrastination.

It's common for those with ADHD to experience poor time management, with people struggling to shift tasks in a timely manner. This means that when people who don't have ADHD recognise it's bedtime, they begin to get into the 'sleep mindset', whereas those with ADHD may find themselves distracted away from their sleep routine and onto something else.

Other medical reasons could be chronic insomnia, in which trying to get to sleep simply isn't possible, or anxiety which can lead to you feeling too stressed to get to sleep. Many other medical issues could cause people to procrastinate on sleep as well as the ones we've listed, but how do you resolve these issues?

The first step is to talk to your doctor - they will be the best point of contact when trying to cope with or combat sleep procrastination if a medical issue causes it. You can sleep better by creating a healthy sleep routine or trying sleep tips to get healthier sleep each night. It might not seem like much, but when it comes to sleep, even the most minor change could lead to better sleep!

Why is sleep deprivation bad?

So we've talked about some of the reasons why people sleep procrastinate and also how you can stop it, but why are we so concerned about making sure you get to sleep on time? Well, it's because everyone needs a certain amount of sleep each night to function properly the next day. Depriving yourself of sleep has serious negative effects on your health, and we're not just talking about how tired you feel the next day!

It can directly impact your physical health if you get too little or poor sleep quality. Check out our article on the effects of sleep deprivation to find out what can happen if you go without sleep for too long or simply suffer from poor rest!

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