SALT LAKE CITY — Scientists are finally studying why people stay up so late watching TV or perusing Facebook instead of going to bed, especially when they have to get up early for work.
This phenomenon, dubbed “bedtime procrastination,” is defined as “failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so” in said a report in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.
Scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands decided to study why people have a hard time actually going to bed at night and reported their findings in a recent New Yorker article.
The researchers used a nine-item bedtime procrastination scale to assess the levels of procrastination used from “I have a regular bedtime which I keep to” to “I want to go to bed on time but I just don’t.” 177 participants were able to rate each item from (almost) never to (almost) always.
Thirty percent of participants reported sleeping on six hours or less of sleep per night, the researchers reported. Eighty-four percent said they slept too little or felt tired at least one day a week and more than 40 percent felt this way three to four days a week.
“Bedtime procrastination is just a specific area in which people fail to keep to their good intentions,” Dr. Floor Kroese, who led the study, told the New Yorker. “We find that people who are generally more likely to procrastinate on things are also more likely to procrastinate on going to bed.”
Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have some kind of sleep disorder. This sleepiness can affect one's memory, cause driving problems and affect work productivity.
The authors also note this phenomenon is more prevalent due to technological advances and a constant access to entertainment.
The research highlights the need to help people increase their willpower to stop whatever activity is keeping them from sleeping but doesn't offer any solutions. Forbes.com suggests people can harness their procrastination by visualizing what they want, writing down their goal and giving themselves a deadline.