You know you have to be up for work in the morning. You know you should get eight hours of shut-eye each night. And you know it’s bad for your health to get poor sleep for nights on end. And yet, there you lie, scrolling through social media late into the night and ignoring the ticking clock.
Experts have started calling this behavior “revenge bedtime procrastination.” Why the harsh name? Because for most people, it’s a way to get some time to yourself before the day ends, almost like you’re stealing back time in the day from your own sleeping hours.
Stephanie Kinnare, PhD, a psychologist with Baptist Behavioral Health, hears about this problem from her patients fairly often, especially teens and young adults.
“Screen time, either with phones or tablets, is the biggest culprit I see in this purposeful delay of sleep,” she said. “That’s really problematic because regular sleep is a key ingredient in stable mental and physical health. Lack of sleep affects memory and attention, and leads to drowsiness during the day. That will affect academic or work performance. Emotionally, we see increased depression, anxiety and irritability with sleep deprivation.”
It can be harder than ever to find time for yourself during the day now that many people work from home due to the pandemic, which means their professional lives can invade their personal space and schedule. Families with children who are distance learning may feel the time crunch even more.
So, how can you get enough rest and time to yourself when it feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day? Dr. Kinnare recommends three things:
“Step back and look at the bigger picture of your life. Picture a seesaw. On one side are all of your responsibilities, your job and your to-dos, and on the other side are your leisure and fun time. If the seesaw is so unbalanced that the responsibilities are always heavier, it’s time to think about making changes to even it out. Maybe this means taking a mental health day or asking for more flexible work hours for a period of time. It’s not practical to always expect perfect balance, but if we don’t try, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.”
“Optimize the free time you do have. Mindfulness offsets stress and anxiety because you’re soaking in the joy of the moment around you and your thoughts aren’t retreating back to all of your to-dos and responsibilities. Whatever time you do find for yourself, try to be fully present to get the most out of it.”
“Create good sleep hygiene. This means creating a comfortable environment in which to sleep. Also try to do some relaxing behaviors before bedtime, like taking a bath, meditating, or praying. Experts recommend unplugging 30 minutes to an hour before starting your sleep routine. It’s an effective way to calm down and get ready for sleep.”
If you feel like the pandemic or other life stressors are making it hard to care for yourself, Baptist Behavioral Health is here for you. Call 904.376.3800 to speak with a patient coordinator, who can schedule your appointment with the best provider for your needs. Parents, kids and teens can also call the Wolfson Children’s 24/7 Kids & Teens Helpline at 904.202.7900 or text LIFE to 741741 to speak with someone immediately.