3 Ways to End Bedtime Procrastination for Good
Try: Stopping with the after-dinner caffeine to fuel you through the late-night work session.
Why it works: Caffeine is worse than you thought. In addition to increasing your alertness, leaving you too jazzed up to drift off at bedtime, it also delays your circadian clock, the internal timekeeper that tells you when it's time to fall asleep and time to wake up, according to new research in Science Translational Medicine. The effects are worse when combined with TV or laptop use. When study participants were given a double espresso three hours before their usual bedtime and exposed to low-light conditions, there was a roughly 40-minute delay in their nightly circadian rhythm compared with those who didn't get the caffeine; when they were given that double espresso and then exposed to three hours of bright lights, there was a 105-minute delay.
You're Still Up Because: You can't turn your brain off.
Try: Turning on a noise machine at the time you know you should start getting ready for bed.
Why it works: "In addition to drowning out noises that might keep you up, white noise works on a deeper psychological level, conditioning you to associate the noise with bedtime," says David Neubauer, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine. It's similar to a Pavlovian response—you hear the ocean waves, babbling brook or oscillating fan and soon enough, you'll instinctively want to start preparing for sleep.
You're Still Up Because: You're binging on Billions, knitting the new sweater you just got the perfect pattern for, reading the most riveting book...
Try: Choosing a less comfortable spot than your favorite corner of the couch or cushy armchair.
Why it works: As addictive as these activities are, you're more likely to stop what you're doing and go to sleep if your behind doesn't feel like it's being cradled by clouds, says Neubauer. You don't need to sit on a pincushion—just choose something like a kitchen chair.