When we get into bed at night, the hope is that we’ll drift off to sleep without a hitch. However, many folks find the time right before take bed to be anything but restful. As we anticipate dreamland, thoughts about what we should have done during the day start creeping in. These worries can prevent us from sleeping, which in turn can lead to lost productivity and procrastination the following day.
Recently, Simply Rest set out to discover: What are the thoughts that haunt us right before bed? And what can we do to address them and achieve a more peaceful night’s rest? Simply Rest surveyed over 1,000 people about the tasks they often put off doing, what worries plague them the most at night, and how those concerns affect their sleeping cycles. The results give some clear insight into what’s keeping us from a good night’s sleep and how we can improve our nightly downtime.
The most common tasks people put off doing included laundry, answering emails, and house chores. However, procrastination varied somewhat according to gender. Women were more likely to put off doing laundry and house chores, whereas men were more likely to avoid answering emails and working on a project. Both genders, though, were equally likely to drag their feet when it came to paying monthly bills, with 32.4% of all respondents procrastinating until the last minute.
In the survey, procrastination was revealed to be a very common problem. Of the survey respondents, 86% admitted to procrastinating on a task and having to complete it at the last minute, and 77% of women and nearly 74% of men acknowledged remembering those tasks right before getting into bed. So, what did people do when confronted with undone chores right before lights out? More than 46% decided to complete the task right then, even though it was late at night, and nearly 23% vowed to complete the task early the next morning. However, 31% said it depended on the task.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those accosted with memories of unfinished tasks were the most likely to report being “not at all satisfied” with the quality of their sleeping. About 63% of those who panicked at night when remembering an incomplete task said they tossed and turned on the mattress. In contrast, those who experienced the least panic at night had the most restful night’s sleep. It seems that taking care of daily tasks can help people approach sleeping with a more restful mindset. However, relatively few respondents reported feeling Zen at bedtime. The percentage of very dissatisfied sleepers (62.9%) greatly outweighed the percentage of peaceful sleepers (23.7%).
Why We Wait
It seems that procrastinating – and being bothered by one’s own procrastination – is a fairly common human activity. So, why do people procrastinate? Why don’t we all quickly and efficiently take care of our responsibilities so that we can sleep like babies?
Many think of procrastination as an avoidance strategy, but the Simply Rest study highlighted other valid reasons people sidestepped completing tasks. More than half of those who procrastinated had simply forgotten about the task they meant to do, while around 49% felt unmotivated.
Other common reasons for avoiding a task included being tired, distracted, and disinterested. Survey respondents’ mental health also played a role in their reported productivity: About a fifth of respondents cited depression or anxiety as reasons they left chores undone.
Procrastination, the survey found, tended to affect other areas of respondents’ lives negatively. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed reported their productivity was seriously affected by procrastination, and 17.8% experienced significant levels of stress. In addition, 67% of respondents found their sleeping was affected, either in minor or major ways, by avoiding necessary tasks.
One thing that the survey makes clear is that distracting thoughts take a significant toll on our mental state. And there’s a clear connection between sleep quality and levels of productivity. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they were more likely to procrastinate when they were running low on relaxation. Not getting enough zzz’s can contribute to scattered feelings and a lack of focus during the day, making it difficult to tackle any to-do list.
The connection between procrastination and sleep loss can become a vicious cycle, says Simply Rest staff writer Erin Rossi. “If you don’t get enough relaxation at night, you’re liable to be distracted throughout the day. If you’re distracted during the day, you’re just as likely not to get the recommended amount of sleep or have high-quality rest … breaking this habit can be difficult if you don’t know where to start.”
Break the Cycle
If you’re having trouble with focus and productivity during your days, the solution may well be to increase the quality of your take bed. But how can you take steps to make your nighttime more restful? Healthline highlights several concrete steps you can take to improve your “sleep health.” Some strategies that may help you get more shut-eye include the following: increasing your exposure to light during the day, reducing screen time in the evenings, avoiding alcohol, and making sure your bed rest environment is comfortable and welcoming.
Taking such measures are well worth the investment of time and energy because your sleep health has a huge impact on your overall health. Studies have shown that a consistent lack of rest can lead to serious health issues, including a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, weight gain, and increased risk of accident and injury.
Improving the quality and length of your relaxation, then, leads to improvement in many other areas of your life. When you have enough bed rest under your belt, you’re better able to fight off infection, perform well at school or work, and work productively and safely. So, to keep yourself in tip-top shape, take proactive steps to ensure you get a full eight hours of take bed at night. With your improved sleep health, you’re less likely to procrastinate during the day and more likely to drift off into restful sleep at night.