5 Strategies To Quit Bedtime Procrastination & Get To Sleep On Time
We've all been there: It's getting late and you should definitely be getting to sleep, but you find yourself doom-scrolling, cleaning all you can find, or doing pretty much anything instead of going to bed. This reluctance to hit the hay is also known as bedtime procrastination1, and research shows it's associated with poor sleep quality.
Why do we procrastinate going to bed?
"Procrastinating at bedtime comes in part from feeling a lack of control over your time," integrative psychiatrist and sleep specialist Nishi Bhopal, M.D., explains to mbg. "Those quiet nighttime hours are precious and often the only time we have to ourselves."
Plus, she adds, the pandemic has extended some people's working hours (and therefore cut down on their free time), which can make them want to stay up later. Those who aren't commuting during the pandemic also might be tempted to stretch out bedtime since they don't need to wake up as early.
Nevertheless, sticking with a consistent bedtime can improve your overall sleep quality. So, if bedtime procrastination is getting the best of you, here are a few top tips.
5 ways to stop procrastinating at bedtime:
Set your intention first thing in the morning.
Overcoming any bad habit requires a degree of intention. "In the morning," Bhopal suggests, "set an intention for what time you want to go to bed, and remind yourself why sleep is a priority."
Taking a morning walk or curating another morning routine you enjoy can also encourage you to wake up earlier (and go to bed on time).
Make your days more fulfilling.
"There's a feeling of freedom and comfort that comes with [staying up late]," Bhopal explains. Ask yourself how you can access a similar feeling during the day: Maybe it's by taking breaks throughout the workday, playing music as you work, putting more joy-sparking items on your desk, etc. "And don't forget to take time off if you need to," Bhopal adds, "and schedule time for things that you enjoy."
Incorporate a sleep supplement.*
As you're starting to wind down (which, you should give yourself plenty of time for, BTW), you might want to consider incorporating a sleep supplement into your routine to help prime your body and mind for bed. mbg's sleep support+, for example, has a formula specifically made for calming an overactive mind and promoting relaxation, to help you not only fall asleep faster but stay asleep longer.*
Find an accountability partner.
You don't have to go it alone: Bhopal says you can also enlist the help of a friend or family member to be an "accountability partner," who can remind you to go to bed on time.
If you live with a partner, they're an obvious option, but you can also recruit a friend who also struggles with bedtime procrastination. Pick your designated bedtime, and text each other to get to bed at that time every night.
Give yourself a break—once in a while.
And lastly, remember not to stress yourself out about it. After all, the pressure to fall asleep can wind up keeping us up longer. Bhopal says it's OK to stay up late and sleep in once in a while; just "don't make it a regular habit at the expense of your mental and physical health."
The bottom line.
Sleep is, without a doubt, a pillar of our overall well-being. If you're procrastinating going to bed, it can take a toll on your quality of sleep and, of course, how you feel the following morning. But with a bit of intention, scheduling time to enjoy yourself during the day, and the help of a sleep supplement and/or accountability partner, you can quit bedtime procrastination for good and honor your much-needed bedtime.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.