Time to put the phone down – bedtime procrastination is real

21 November 2022

If you find yourself scrolling through TikTok or bingeing on Netflix late at night - there's a good chance that your sleep is suffering - and now there's research to support it.

A new systematic review and meta-analysis that combined the results of 43 studies has found that bedtime procrastination is correlated with increased daytime fatigue' shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality.

Published in Sleep Medicine Reviews' December issue' the study' titled Go to bed! A systematic review and meta-analysis of bedtime procrastination correlates and sleep outcomes was led by CQUniversity PhD Candidate Vanessa Hill.

'Bedtime procrastination is the intentional delay of going to bed' without any external circumstances causing the delay (such as children' pets' or being on call for work)'' Ms Hill explained.

'Bedtime procrastination is prevalent' with more than 50 per cent of adults indicating that they go to bed later than intended three or more days a week.'

Ms Hill said bedtime procrastination was an important new area of research' with 55 per cent of articles included in the review published in 2020-2021.

'With that in mind' our paper provides the most up-to-date evidence about bedtime procrastination.'

Ms Hill said the meta-analysis brought together the results of 43 studies to create a new data set and analyse the results of all studies published to date.

'There were differing results (or mixed findings) for some of the single studies on bedtime procrastination'' she said.

'Overall' systematic reviews and meta-analyses are important as they synthesise and produce results from a whole area of research rather than single studies.

'The results show that higher bedtime procrastination is correlated with shorter sleep duration' lower sleep quality and increased daytime fatigue.'

Ms Hill said in addition' higher bedtime procrastination was correlated with lower self-control and evening chronotype (night owls).

'Many people procrastinate their bedtime from time to time' though for some people this is a regular occurrence that has a severe impact on their daily wellbeing'' Ms Hill explained.

'These results are an important first step for scientists to develop interventions to promote adequate sleep for people who have bedtime procrastination problems. For others who want to improve their overall health' this research shows that procrastinating bedtime could have a negative impact on their sleep.'

The study was conducted alongside fellow researchers at CQUniversity's Appleton Institute including Amanda Rebar' Grace Vincent' Sally Ferguson and Alexandra Shriane.

In addition to her PhD research' Ms Hill is an award-winning science communicator' producer' and YouTuber.

'I've been the creator of the channel BrainCraft for the past nine years and I produced the documentary series Attention Wars in 2018 to draw attention to the influence of social media on our attention and emotions'' Ms Hill said.

'I also created Sleeping With Friends' a reality TV show about improving your sleep. From the show' I received thousands of comments about how people were using YouTube as a sleep aid'' she explained.

'Through my work' it became clear that technology is deeply intertwined in people's lives – in a way that even helps them get to sleep and brings them relaxation and comfort. But it's complicated' because technology also negatively impacts sleep.

'One aim of my research is to better understand the relationship between sleep and technology use – it's clear that bedtime procrastination plays a role in this relationship. From here' our team will design a bedtime procrastination intervention for those that need and want it' to hopefully help improve sleep and overall wellbeing.'

Ms Hill said intervention development is now underway.