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July 21, 2023

Expert shares what procrastinating going to sleep is doing to your health

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 6:07 am

After a long day at work, many of us will spend time mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching Netflix instead of going straight to sleep. 

Those three minutes you promise yourself then turns into three hours and before you know it, you’ve woken up the next day even more exhausted than before. 

Rachael Beard, Sleep Wellness Manager at A.H. Beard’s Sleep Wellness Centre, tells 9Honey Coach this “vicious cycle” is called revenge bedtime procrastination. 

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Sleep expert Rachael Beard explains the impact of revenge sleep procrastination. (Getty)

“We often get trapped in this cycle to do the more personal things we didn’t have time for in the day, and help regain a sense of control over ‘lost’ time,” Beard explains. 

According to Beard, revenge bedtime (or sleep) procrastination is the “intentional decision” to put off sleep in favour of leisurely activities such as reading, watching television or going on your phone.

The recommended amount of sleep you should be getting per night is seven to nine hours. 

But for those who are staying up late scrolling on their phones, not getting that needed amount of sleep ultimately has detrimental health effects. 

“We’re impacted by sleep loss the very next day, making it harder to get our work or tasks done efficiently and lacking the self control we need to get our sleep cycle back on track again,” Beard says. 

She explains that sleep deprivation slows down our cognitive responses and causes us to be more emotional and think less rationally. 

“You wake up tired, feel like you’re on the back foot and you’re not able to live the day at your best,” she shares. “Therefore you’re tired throughout the day and at the end, you’re craving that doom scrolling.” 

The sleep wellness expert says that the most likely people to fall victim to sleep procrastination are those with busy schedules or who struggle with a good work/ life balance. 

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The most common people to experience sleep procrastination are those who struggle with work/life balance. (Getty)

She lists students as a prime example as they have to balance school with homework, chores and extracurricular activities.

She also says parents of young children and business professionals are most susceptible to sleep procrastination as they have very busy and jampacked days with little alone time.

“It’s important to pay attention to our relationship with sleep, as it can be a strong indicator of what’s happening in our life,” Beard says. 

“Revenge bedtime procrastination can be a sign of burnout – if you were feeling balanced and in control of your day, you probably wouldn’t need to sacrifice your sleeping hours to achieve a sense of “me” time.”

Social media has also become an enabler for sleep procrastination, says Beard. 

Late night scrolling makes it harder to fall asleep due to the effect that blue light has on your brain. 

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“The blue light enters your eyes and hits your brain, then suppresses the production of melatonin, which is our body’s natural sleep hormone,” the sleep wellness expert explains. 

“So the blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to be awake, when we should be allowing our brain to naturally produce melatonin so we can feel sleepy, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer,” she adds. 

While sleep procrastination might seem like an issue of staying up later, Beard says that there is “no one size fits all for sleep as circadian rhythms can vary person to person and even by culture.”

There are ways to ensure you have a better sleep cycle and therefore function better in the day. 

Beard says that simple things like sleeping in or staying up late can throw off your sleep cycle and contribute to what she calls “social jetlag”. 

What good sleep hygiene looks like

To combat sleep procrastination and bad sleeping habits in general, Beard shares her advice to having good sleep hygiene.

First of all, she explains what sleep hygiene means in the first place.

“For many, sleep hygiene refers to creating a healthy and allergen free sleep environment, meaning you’re always up to date on vacuuming, dusting, cleaning sheets, ventilating the room, and choosing a mattress that is dust mite resistant,” Beard says. 

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Sleep expert Rachael Beard shares her advice for having good sleep hygiene. (Getty)

“These things are all important, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma, but I think sleep hygiene also extends to the way in which we sleep and the implementation of healthy sleep habits,” she adds. 

According to Beard, consistency is one of the most important parts of getting into a good sleep cycle.

When she says ‘consistency’ the sleep expert refers to having a set sleeping time that you keep to to ensure you are getting enough quality sleep.

Part of helping to sleep consistently and well for seven to nine hours is to make sure your room is set up correctly.

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“We sleep best in bedrooms which are cool, dark, quiet, clutter-free and comfortable,” Beard explains.

She recommends having a temperature controlled room and a bed mattress that is both supportive and comfortable. 

“Your bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary. While it might seem like a nice idea to WFH from your warm and cosy bed, this can confuse your brain when you do try to wind down for sleep.”

Beard also suggests choosing a time to go to sleep that works best with your daily schedule. 

“Once you’ve picked your wake up time the best thing to do is work backwards seven to nine hours to find your ideal bedtime,” Beard explains. “After that, whether you go to bed late or wake up early is up to you!”

“The best thing to do is work backwards seven to nine hours to find your ideal bedtime.” (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Try to stick to your sleeping time and not stray more than an hour outside of it. 

The sleep wellness expert highly recommends naps in the day if you’ve had a late night out or just simply less sleep than you’re used to. 

She says a nap can be great “for an extra boost of sleep and to balance out your sleep debt.”

To round of her sleep hygiene advice, Beard emphasis the importance of exercise. 

The sleep wellness expert says exercising in the evening just before you got to bed will actually affect the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. 

If you’ve exercised, it will generally wear you out and make it quicker and easier to fall and stay asleep. 

“As a rule of thumb, unless you’re doing some light stretching, it’s best to leave at least a couple of hours between the gym and bed,” Beard recommends. 

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