If you have trouble getting through the afternoon without an extra cup of coffee or two, you’re either the parent of a small child, an insomniac, or someone who just can’t bring himself to go to bed when it’s time. All three conditions will wreak havoc on your productivity, but since the last one is under your control, it’s the most worth examining, in terms of improving efficiency and job satisfaction. Why do we stay up, when we should go to bed?
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Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands recently examined the phenomenon of what they call “bedtime procrastination,” and published their findings in the journal Frontiers. Their conclusion?
“Bedtime procrastination was negatively associated with self-regulation: people who scored lower on self-regulation variables reported more bedtime procrastination. Moreover, self-reported bedtime procrastination was related to general reports of insufficient sleep above and beyond demographics and self-regulation.”
The good news is that it’s not necessarily your fault. The researchers found that study subjects put off going to sleep not because they had generally poor impulse control or because they weren’t imagination enough to picture being exhausted in tomorrow’s 3 p.m. meeting, but because they had more absorbing things to do than go to sleep.
“Bedtime procrastination may be a relatively modern phenomenon,” Kroese explained to Heather Saul at The Independent. “We speculate that it is not so much a matter of not wanting to sleep, but rather of not wanting to quit other activities. With the development of electrical devices and the 24/7 entertainment industry, people may be facing many more distractions now compared to several decades ago.”
In other words, it’s not that you don’t want to go sleep; it’s that you don’t want to stop binge-watching your favorite TV show, while looking up trivia on your favorite mobile device.
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