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Sleep hygiene and bedtime procrastination

Procrastination or irrational delaying of the performance of a certain activity is an intrinsic part of most people’s lives in various areas.

Procrastination behaviour related to health and sleep and its consequences have not been a common focus of research. We know that procrastinators have poorer health, which may be the result of putting off regular medical check-ups, screenings or diagnostic tests. It has also been noted that people prone to procrastination are more likely to delay on health-promoting measures such as healthy eating, sleep hygiene, preventive screenings or physical activity.

Bedtime procrastination

Sleep is an area of health where procrastination plays a significant role. Bedtime procrastination is defined as putting off going to bed in the absence of any specific external or health factors preventing a person from falling asleep. In the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can observe a variety of changes in the daily sleep routine. Bedtime procrastination is an unjustified but volitional delay in going to bed despite being aware of all the negative consequences.

It is worth noting that while almost all other activities can be postponed or even completely abandoned, the moment of falling asleep can only be delayed. Sooner or later you will need to sleep. Research indicates that bedtime procrastination is related to self-regulation - the lower the level of self-control, the more likely you are to delay falling asleep. Bedtime procrastination is associated with a broad array of behaviours, such as browsing social media, watching movies, TV series and shows or endless improvements of your work reports. If you are averse to the activities you usually perform before going to bed, i.e. you consider them unpleasant or even repulsive, you are likely to put off your bedtime. What is also important, fatigue will have a negative impact on your ability to self-regulate, which in turn can hinder proper sleep hygiene and lead to bedtime procrastination.
Your daily routine before bedtime plays an extremely important role in the circadian rhythm as it affects not just the problems associated with procrastinating behaviour related to falling asleep.

Sleep hygiene 

Proper sleep hygiene determines well-being and supports the natural regenerative processes of our body.  Without sufficient hours of sleep, the mind and the body cannot rest properly, which can have a negative impact on health. Insufficient sleep impairs cognitive and executive functions such as thinking, memory and decision-making ability. Sleep deficit also increases the risk of daytime sleepiness, which can harm productivity and the ability to learn. There is also an increased risk of falling asleep while driving. Not getting enough sleep has its long-term consequences, such as higher sensitivity to stimuli, increased irritability and difficulty regulating emotions. We also know that the length and quality of sleep can be linked to mental health as it may influence the onset or severity of depressive episodes or anxiety disorders.  

Lack of sleep impairs physical health making people more susceptible to cardiovascular problems and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes. In addition, insufficient sleep can weaken your body’s immune function. The consequences of poor sleep hygiene can appear quickly or build up over time, contributing to serious long-term health problems.

In the case of procrastination, the consequences of sleep deprivation can become even more distressing. Lack of sleep is associated with reduced self-regulation and lower impulse control, which means that procrastination can become part of a reinforcing negative cycle of reduced sleep and an overall health status deterioration. 


The best remedy for sleep problems, unless you have a condition that requires pharmacotherapy, is healthy sleep hygiene, which involves creating good habits and an environment conducive to falling sleep. If you follow some established rituals, such behaviour can become almost automatic. 
Examples of positive sleep habits include:

  • Maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, including on non-working days;
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants (e.g. black and green tea) in the late afternoon or evening;
  • Avoiding strenuous exercise 3 hours before going to sleep;
  • Avoid heavy or excessive meals 2 to 3 hours before bedtime;
  • Stopping the use of electronic devices, including mobile phones and tablets, at least half an hour (preferably longer) before bedtime and switching on a blue light filter in the evening;
  • Developing a stable daily routine.

Relaxation methods, such as reading a book, meditation or gentle stretching, can be part of your pre-sleep routine helping you to fall asleep. They will also help you to reduce daily stress and anxiety.

Creating a welcoming atmosphere in the bedroom, such as dimmed or turned off lights, quiet, peaceful music or no sound, a comfortable mattress and favourite bedding can also make falling asleep a real pleasure. An inviting sleeping space can counteract the urge to sacrifice sleep for more attractive leisure activities.

If your sleep problems persist or cause significant sleepiness during daytime, talk to a professional who can help you to review your sleep habits, determine if you are suffering from a sleep disorder and develop a plan to help you to get more rest.

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(PDF) Electrocortical correlates of impaired motor inhibition and outcome processing are related in high binge‐watching. Available from:

Kroese, F. M., De Ridder, D. T. D., Evers, C., and Adriaanse, M. A. (2014). Bedtime procrastination: introducing a new area of procrastination. Front. Psychol. 5:611. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00611

Kroese, F. M., Evers, C., Adriaanse, M. A., and de Ridder, D. T. (2016a). Bedtime procrastination: a self-regulation perspective on sleep insufficiency in the general population. J. Health Psychol. 21, 853–862. doi: 10.1177/1359105314540014

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About the author

Agnieszka Bartczak, MA – employee of the Institute of Applied Psychology at the Jagiellonian University Faculty of Management and Social Communication. Her research interests include psychology of work, organisation and management, in particular professional procrastination, professional tasks and their correlation with different work regimes, job crafting, counterproductive behaviour and managing human resources in remote work.