Everyone wants better sleep…
Editor’s Note: For more tips and best practices on habit formation then make sure to search Menprovement.com for some scientifically-backed and principles-based articles on how best to hack your habits and make change stick.
Procrastination is something that none of us are impervious to– with work and exercise being two of the biggest culprits.
However, according to a study conducted at Utrecht University, carried out on 177 participants, “bedtime procrastination” it was found that 30% of participants would procrastinate going to bed, averaging less than 6 hours of sleep per night.
Although we all have individual reasons on why we go to bed later, according to Michelle Thomas, who is a human resource manager at SuperiorPapers, it can partly be contributed to our work culture, which requires us to be present and online 24/7, as well as social media:
“We don’t even realize how much time we spend every day performing these rituals. So, is there any way we can put an end to our procrastinating habits? Of course there is, but it requires discipline and hard work.”
Here are 3 things you can do to help put an end to sleep procrastination.
1. Do an Audit of Your Activities
Audits are usually associated with one’s financial and business activities, but in this instance it simply means taking stock of all of the activities and distractions that lead up to you going to bed later than you would like. Make a list of all the things you are doing, which are taking away precious time from your sleep, and consider why you are doing them.
For example, some of us enjoy a little bit more “me” time, surfing the web, or tidying up around the house, which is only natural, but if we are losing sleep because of it then we might want to consider not leaving them until so late at night. Instead of cleaning up a bit every day, set aside one day inside a week when you’re going to be doing it. Once you know you have scheduled an activity for a particular time, you are free to go to bed without having to deal with it beforehand.
2. Set a “Bedtime Window”
To get the most out of your sleep, you also need to avoid going to bed at random times, because that’s almost as bad as not getting enough sleep.
You will want to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, which has consistently been proven as the optimal length of time to sleep for. Everyone is different, but likely the number of hours that you need will also fall in this range. The percentage of people that can actually function on 4-6 hours of sleep (as some self help teachers advocate), without any loss in mental functioning, is actually very low. Decide on the time you want to wake up and then count backwards 8 hours to decide on the time that you would like to start going to bed. This may seem obvious but it is actually crazy how few people do not do this.
You will want to stick to these sleep and wake times as closely as you can, at least for a few months until they become habitual. However, make sure to check in with how you are feeling and how your day is playing out: if you think that you might have chosen the wrong wake up time then it is absolutely fine to change your wake up time to one that works better for you.
Make sure to then go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time everyday. It is more important, that you actually get up at your chosen time consistently because as your body adapts you will naturally start to feel tired at your chosen bed time in the evening. This makes actually sticking to your chosen bed time window so much easier.
3. Minimize Your Use of Technology
As already mentioned at the beginning of this article, technology is also to blame for our bedtime procrastination. Whether you enjoy binging on your favorite TV show on Netflix, chatting on social media, or reading listicles, you will lose precious time each night, and then regret it in the morning.
The best solution for this would be to set a bedtime window (see section 2) and then decide on a time when you will step away from your electronic devices and start getting ready for bed. You will want to turn off all stimulating electronics around 1 hour before your bedtime window. Stick with this as long as you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up sometimes. In fact, the only way you can find the perfect method for yourself is through trial and error.
Editor’s Note: Check out apps such as F.lux (the ‘.’ is not a spelling error) for your computer and Twilight for your android as a solution to melatonin blocking blue light that is emitted by these devices in the evening.
Although these guidelines are certainly helpful, it is up to you to determine what works for you and your own body. But, keep in mind that you should wind down before the end of the day, and get as much sleep as you need. There’s nothing you can do before your bedtime that can’t wait for tomorrow. And as one last bonus tip– if there is something that you feel you need to do that evening (which doesn’t strictly need to be done but is still on your mind) then write all of it down and leave the results of this brain dump in a place that you know you will definitely see it in the morning, such as on top of your phone so that you can relax knowing that you will see it first thing.
Good luck and stick at it! Feel free to comment and share your experience so that other readers can benefit.