Have you ever felt so tired that you all you wanted to do was head home and go to bed, but when you do get home, you end up doing everything other than sleeping, and it isn’t only until it’s way past your bedtime that you stumble off to sleep?
It happens more often than you realize, and there are many reasons why our bodies fight sleep when we’re tired. This voluntary reluctance to fall asleep is known as sleep procrastination, and it is exactly what it sounds like. Like how you might procrastinate when it comes to work, exercise, or other tasks, you can procrastinate sleep.
Considering that sufficient sleep is essential to our overall well-being, putting it off when it’s time for some shut eye does not sound like a good idea. So why do we subject ourselves to this?
What Is Sleep Procrastination?
Researchers have defined sleep or bedtime procrastination as “failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so”. What this means is we do not sleep when we’re supposed to, and it’s not because we have pressing matters to attend to.
The main reason why most people delay their bedtimes is likely because they feel like they have not had enough time to do the things they want to. This is not surprising at all — many of us lead such busy lives, from work and school, to spend time with family and friends. With so many commitments, it can be difficult to squeeze in some time for ourselves, which is why many people only do what they want to at night before bed — because that’s the only period during the day that they have time.
There are two types of bedtime procrastinators — active procrastination, and passive procrastination. Active procrastinators are well aware that they are avoiding sleep and they choose to spend their time doing other stuff, and they end up sleeping later than intended because they keep themselves occupied. Passive or inactive procrastinators, on the other hand, are people who are not aware that they are staying up past their bedtimes, and they tend to have a harder time stopping themselves from what they are doing, thus they delay sleep through inaction.
If you find yourself without time throughout the day to do the things you want to, and if you tend to sleep at irregular hours, it is very likely that you are a bedtime procrastinator too.
The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
When you procrastinate on sleep, you might not get sufficient rest, and that’s going to cause many problems in your life. Adults are recommended to have at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night, for optimal performance the next day.
When you’re deprived of sleep, you will start to get dark circles under your eyes, and you’ll likely feel more irritable and cranky during the day. You’ll find it harder to think and concentrate, and your mood will be negatively affected as well. If you’re constantly sleep deprived, these effects can build and cause depression, mania, and you might even start to hallucinate and have suicidal thoughts.
The effects listed above are daily short-term effects, and there are more severe long-term effects as well. You’ll gain weight which may lead to obesity, your blood pressure will go up, and your risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. It goes without saying that these afflictions should be avoided as much as possible, so stop procrastinating and go get some sleep.
Cultivate Some Good Sleeping Habits
Fortunately for you, to get good sleep every night, all you have to do is make a few simple lifestyle changes.
One such way is to stick to a regular sleep schedule every night. Go to bed and wake up the next morning at the same time, even on the weekends. This will help to regulate your internal body clock, which is called your circadian rhythm. This rhythm can adjust your body to cope throughout the day — when the sun is up, it makes you feel alert and keeps you awake, and at night it makes you feel sleepy so you can get optimal rest. Sticking to a proper schedule will help you feel awake and sleepy at the appropriate times.
There is a way that our circadian rhythm can get messed up, and that is when we use our electronic devices at night. The LED screens on these devices emit blue light, which disrupts our circadian rhythm as it can be mistaken for being the same blue light rays emitted by the sun. Blue light has various effects on us, one of which is keeping us awake and alert, so when you use your devices before bedtime, you probably wouldn’t feel sleepy because your body thinks it’s still day time. To avoid this, put away your phones and laptops at least one hour before bedtime.