Past Your Bedtime As A Pastime

Researchers are finding that bedtime procrastination – “failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so” – runs rampant:

In [one] study—whose results will soon be published in Journal of Health Psychology— [researcher Floor] Kroese looked at a representative sample of twenty-four hundred and thirty-one Dutch adults, who responded to an online survey and kept a sleep diary every day for a week. The participants reported what time they wanted to go to bed, what time they actually went to bed, and, if there was a discrepancy between the two, whether that reason was outside of their control (crying baby, sick husband, waiting up for a tardy daughter) or within it (good TV). … [H]er team found that a large number of people got insufficient sleep and that, as the report states, “people who have low self-regulation skills are more likely to keep watching the late night movie, or play yet another computer game despite knowing they might regret it the next morning when waking up tired.”

“When you’re in these situations, it’s sort of a foggy state, a foggy inertial state,” [researcher Joel] Anderson said. “You need to get going, you need something to get you out of that. You need a greased skid to help you.” This might be a timer that switches off your television, or an alarm on your phone—anything to switch off the illicit zombie impulse that makes you keep scrolling through Twitter under the bedcovers. “It’s not magic, but the effect is robust,” he went on. “If there’s a clear cue, and a clear plan of action lined up, then there are ways of managing yourself.”