Why you stay up so late, even when you know you shouldn’t

Like a self-proclaimed night owl, I’m rarely surprised when I look up from Instagram and see that it’s gone well when I intended to fall asleep. Here’s how I explain it: I’ve always been up late, and now the only time I get a grip on myself is when my husband and daughter are asleep. Here’s what’s really going on: I’m procrastinating.

Some researchers call it bedtime procrastination or procrastination in bed, while the Chinese word for it translates to “bedtime procrastination revenge. Whatever you call it, in my case it involves a combination of technology and anxiety; I’m worried that I won’t be able to fall asleep quickly, so I tell myself I’ll just scroll through social media until I’m exhausted. This is it, with a lack of what researchers call self-regulation– that makes me a classic sleep procrastinator.

How does sleep procrastination occur

The idea of ​​sleep procrastination was first introduced in a 2014 study in the Netherlands, defining the act simply as “not going to bed on time when there is no external circumstance preventing a person from doing so.” Revenge has been added title in 2020 with the onset of the pandemic, but as a concept it’s actually been around much longer.

According to Alessandra edwards, a performance expert, bedtime procrastination for revenge is quite common among people who feel like they are not in control of their time (such as those in high-stress jobs) and are looking for a way to regain a little personal time, even if it means staying up too late.

“When it comes to the evening, they adamantly refuse to go to bed early, at a time that they know will suit them best and allow them to get adequate restful sleep and feel their best,” says Edwards. “Nonetheless, there is a feeling of retaliation against life, so there is an idea of ​​revenge for staying awake and doing whatever fills their bucket.”

How your personality can contribute to insufficient sleep

Behavior scientist Kroese floor, assistant professor in health psychology at the University of Utrecht and principal author of the study that first introduced bedtime procrastination, notes that there is also a link between procrastination in everyday life and procrastination in sleep.

“An interesting difference may be that people generally procrastinate on tasks they find aversive – housework, homework, boring tasks – while sleeping for most people isn’t aversive at all,” Kroese says. “Maybe it’s the bedtime routines that precede bed that people don’t like, or they just don’t like giving up on what they were doing.”

In a complementary study from 2014, carried out with a larger number of participants, Kroese and his team argued that lack of self-regulation – associated with personality traits such as being impulsive or easily distracted – is a possible cause of procrastination in the body. sleep. While self-regulation and procrastination may sound like opposing sides of the same coin, they are in fact different; a 2019 study differentiates the two defining procrastination as delaying action, while self-regulation refers to “thoughts, feelings and behaviors that guide individuals to set personal goals.”

For those who are unable to self-regulate, Edwards adds that the time before bed may be the only time to deal with the emotional backlog of the day, including “frustration and anger, or fear and anxiety. which they may have felt during the day but are silent. “

Kroese’s research indicates that “self-regulatory interventions” may be helpful in improving sleep behavior, and therefore reducing sleep procrastination. Getting adequate sleep takes more than just setting a bedtime (especially since self-regulation comes with thoughts and feelings, not just behaviors).

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