IF you’re still sat watching Netflix when you know you should be in bed then it’s likely you won’t have the best nights’ sleep.
Most people might have found it difficult to sleep this last week due to the heat but some people have actively been putting it off – a term known as sleep procrastination.
If you’re putting off going to bed then it’s likely you’re not getting enough sleep, experts warnCredit: Getty – Contributor
Dr Verena Senn, Sleep Expert at Emma – The Sleep Company said the phrase “revenge bedtime procrastination” is thought to have come from China and describes the decision to delay sleep for other activities.
She explains that this has become prominent in the last year due to the fact that many people have been working from home and haven’t been able to “put work to bed” once the day is over with.
This she says has led people to not have enough time to do the things they enjoy – therefore they put off sleep.
She explained: “Although watching cat videos until 2am may feel like a reclamation of your time, really all you’re doing is building up sleep debt (what we call the difference between the amount of sleep we need and the amount we actually get) – and sleep debt can’t be paid back by, for instance, sleeping-in on the weekend.
“Sleep debt is a problem because regularly sacrificing sleep can be extremely damaging to both your physical and mental health. We should all be aiming for the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended 7-9 hours a night for adults (18 to 64 years).”
Dr Verena said that the first step is to recognise the problem, here experts reveal the most common issues and how to fix them.
1. Sleep environment
Alison Jones, Sleep Expert at Sealy said that having the right sleep environment can have a major effect on both the length and quality of your sleep.
Speaking to The Sun she said: “You may be delaying creating a relaxing environment but if your room is stuffy or cramped, or your bed is uncomfortable, this can affect the quality of your sleep.
“Start by recognising what is preventing you from having a quality night sleep. For example, are your windows fully covered to prevent light coming in? Do you have suitable bedding for the season? Does your mattress provide support and comfort?””
The solution to your sleep environment, Alison says you need to create a comfortable environment in which you can relax.
A good sleep environment is key to getting a good nights’ sleep – so that means no pets on the bedCredit: Getty
She explained: “Making small changes such as reducing light exposure, re-positioning furniture, using essential oils or investing in the right bedding, can help create a tranquil and sleep-inducing space.
“For an ideal environment, keep your bedroom clutter-free and décor to a minimum.
“Refrain from sleeping with pets and select the ideal sleeping temperature, usually between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Invest in a quality mattress and bedding, as the chances are, the more plush your bed is, the earlier you’ll want to get in it!”
2. Burn out
Alison said we often procrastinate and delaying going to sleep because we get too stuck in to doing other things.
These things, Alison says, are usually admin or work-related and your brain will find it difficult to switch off.
She said: “When you find yourself in this mindset, people tend to find themselves in a Catch-22 by eking out the working day at the expense of sleep.
“In actual fact, one of the most important parts of recovery from work is sleep and by depriving yourself of the recommended amount of sleep (8-10 hours), you will find yourself overtired and burnt out.
“This will result in you being less productive during the day and hence feeding the cycle.”
Alison said the solution to burn out is to set strict boundaries with yourself and schedule “relaxation time” each night.
To do this, she said you should allocate at least one hour each evening to doing nothing and refrain from doing other tasks or admin during this time, to avoid being sucked in.
“By reclaiming some ‘me’ time in the run up to sleep, you will no longer put off bedtime as you will feel fulfilled from both a work and leisure perspective.
“As with anything, routine is key for a good sleep schedule, so you should be consistent with your approach in order to see the benefits”, she added.
If you’re suffering from burn out then you need to take time for your own needsCredit: Getty
Alison said that resisting the lure of TV, social media and other distractions can be one of the main course for sleep procrastination.
“She explained: “Many people find themselves reaching for their phone or tablet late at night, only to emerge hours later having missed their bedtime.
“Not only does the blue light from TVs and screens promote alertness and performance making it harder to fall asleep, interacting with apps also stimulates our brain and makes it hard for us to switch off.”
The solution, Alison says is to cut down on the amount of TV you watch, and how often you use your phone.
She said: “Cut back on the time spent ‘doing things’ in the run up to bedtime. Instead, opt for things such as reading, listening to music or a podcast or taking a bath, as these require less stimulation and are less likely to cause distraction.
“You can support this by using functions like ‘do not disturb’ or ‘night mode’ on your mobile phone, as well as putting a time limit on certain social media applications.”
4. You’re human
Sleep physiologist Stephanie Romiszewski, on behalf of LloydsPharmacy said we are all human beings and that means that sometimes, our hormones can wreak havoc with our sleep.
She said: “Our hormones can interrupt our sleep routines, with specific hormones, like cortisol and melatonin, affecting our body in specific ways, including our ability to sleep.
“These hormones at the right times are very helpful to our bodies. For example, melatonin can help us fall asleep and cortisol can help us wake up and feel maximum alertness).
“However, too much of a certain hormone at the wrong times can confuse our bodies and therefore affect how restful sleep is.”
The solution, Stephanie explains, is to try and regulate hormones such as cortisol as this is the hormone that impacts our stress and anxiety levels.
If you’re stressed and anxious it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sleep very well.
She also explained why progesterone might be helpful: “Progesterone is a female sex hormone.
“However different levels of the hormone are also closely associated to sleep quality.
“When this hormone is highly concentrated, it provides an anti-anxiety effect, helping you fall asleep quicker, whereas when it is low, it can encourage mood swings and cramping, keeping you from falling asleep”, she added.