‘Bedtime Procrastination’ Is a Thing

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By eleven-ish o’clock on weeknights, I know that I probably should be at least considering getting ready for bed. But getting up off the couch in order to brush my teeth, wash my face, and change into pajamas — sometimes it all just seems so hard. And so I avoid it for a little while and end up going to sleep far too late, all for the sake of watching one more episode of Orange Is the New Black or screwing around on social media.

It’s not quite insomnia, because it isn’t that I can’t sleep; I’m just putting it off. Recently, researchers in the Netherlands put a name to this phenomenon: “bedtime procrastination,” which they define as “failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so.”

Jordan Gaines Lewis is studying sleep at Penn State College of Medicine, and while she wasn’t involved in this new research, she offers some practical tips on overcoming the urge to procrastinate your bedtime:

I think it's most important to realize how crappy you feel and how much your work suffers after an OitNB nighttime binge. … A simple fix is to keep a schedule for yourself and stick to it. If you can't fit in all of your fun daytime activities in before your scheduled bedtime, then take comfort in knowing you'll be alert and well-rested the next day to experience them.

This isn’t, of course, a brand-new phenomenon. But it is newly named, and naming a thing is the first step toward beating it.