Popular Science

Psychologists are trying to figure out why we don’t go to sleep (even when we want to)

Self-control and your body clock both have their place in bedtime procrastination.
a pug in bed

Getting to bed on time is surprisingly complicated.

You know the feeling. It’s late and you were supposed to be asleep 20 minutes ago. But Netflix calls. Or the new Stephen King novel. Or that final email for work you didn’t get to earlier. You should probably just call it a night, at least if you don’t want to be tired and cranky tomorrow. But you just…don’t.

For many of us, putting off going to bed is an all too familiar problem. Yet psychologists only came up with a name for this behavior—bedtime procrastination—a few years ago, and still don’t entirely understand why we do it.

The team in the Netherlands who coined the term have argued in favor of poor self-regulation. But another camp of psychologists has recently proposed that chronotype—our biological preference for waking and sleeping at certain times of day—may be a better explanation for bedtime procrastination. In February, they reported in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that night owls delayed going to bed most at the beginning of the workweek, perhaps because they were still well rested from sleeping in on their days off.

Now, the on the new paper.

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