Battling bedtime procrastination: Find right balance between need for 'me time' and adequate sleep - Experts

Many people delay sleep to seek personal satisfaction and fulfillment before bedtime. Therefore, incorporating "me time" into your daily schedule can help better manage the balance between work, external expectations and personal needs.

25 May 2024 09:00am
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF

SHAH ALAM - People need to find the right balance between their need for personal time and the necessity of getting adequate sleep.

Psychiatrist from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) associate professor Dr Hijaz Ridzwan said bedtime procrastination referred to the phenomenon where individuals delay going to bed and sacrifice sleep in favour of engaging in leisure activities that they did not have time for during the day.

"People often stay up late scrolling through their phones or watching TV, seeking relaxation and indulgence, even though they're aware it leads to insufficient sleep.

"In essence, it's crucial to strike a balance between personal time and ensuring sufficient sleep," he said told Sinar Daily.

He suggested implementing strategies such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, which involved going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to regulate the body’s internal clock.

Hijaz said limiting screen time before bedtime, ideally by reducing exposure to screens at least an hour before bedtime could decrease stimulation and promote better sleep.

He also recommended effectively planning leisure activities by allocating specific times during the day or evening for personal activities, which can reduce the urge to postpone bedtime.

"Create a relaxing bedtime routine by engaging in activities like reading or listening to calming music, which can prepare the body for sleep and avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and heavy meals close to bedtime," he added.

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Hijaz emphasised the importance of creating a conducive sleep environment by ensuring the bedroom was comfortable, dark and quiet, reducing screen time and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, light stretching and progressive muscle relaxation.

He urged individuals to establish a regular sleep schedule, highlighting that consistency helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology president Joel Low suggested incorporating "me time" into daily schedule to better manage the balance between work, external expectations and personal needs.

He added that people often delay sleep in order to do something for themselves, seeking personal satisfaction and fulfilment before bedtime.

"I think the best way would be for us to redefine or change the way that we see our typical day.

"If we see our entire day as nothing other than to get work done and fulfil commitment to everyone else, then we most likely will have no time for ourselves and that would mean we would procrastinate all the more likely," he said when contacted.

Low highlighted that many people engage in this behaviour to carve out personal time as their days were often consumed by obligations to others rather than themselves.

He said sleep was essential to allow the body and mind to rest adding that people should discard unnecessary information and rejuvenate to prepare for the challenges of the next day.