Bedtime - the most difficult part of the day?
4:00pm. Time to leave work and rush home to enjoy my night with my husband and my dogs. Fighting the afternoon traffic can be a drag but at least the day of work is over! I usually call my mom, my sisters, or a friend on my way home to keep me company and make sure we're all staying in touch with one another.
5:00pm. I pull into the driveway, see Arizona in the window anxiously awaiting my arrival so she can jump on me as soon as I walk in the door. Piper is already at the door ready to run outside to use the bathroom and sniff around for the squirrel she's been after for months. I go outside to water all my potted flowers that are just now beginning to bloom. I can't wait to see what color pops up in each bloom since I planted them all from seeds without knowing what color they would be.
6:00pm. Usually sitting on the couch and watching TV or playing games on my phone, debating on what to eat for dinner. Clayton usually already has some idea of what to make and is already working on it. What a lifesaver!
7:00pm. Holy cow! How is it already 7pm? Didn't I just get home from work? Maybe I'll take the dogs for a walk to make my night feel somewhat meaningful.
8:00pm. Of course it's already 8:00. That means only one more hour before I'm supposed to get ready for bed. I count down the minutes I have left to enjoy before the evening is over. Maybe I'm feeling a bit tired but I resist it because I don't want to cut my night short.
9:00pm. My medication reminder and Fitbit bedtime alarms go off - "It's time to start winding down." I can't believe it's already 9pm. I am really not ready for my night to be over. Clayton heads to bed and encourages me to start getting ready to go to sleep. I'm not quite ready. I'll just watch one more episode of this show.
10:00pm. Well shoot. I've already missed my bedtime. And Clayton's fast asleep already. Am I going to get enough sleep to be able to wake up at 5am to go swim before work? Yeah.... I should be fine? 10pm isn't that late, after all! And the dogs look so cute cuddled up on the couch. I can't wake them up!
11:00pm. Omg. How have I done this to myself again??? I have SO much left to do before I go to bed. How am I going to get it all done? I have to let the dogs out one more time. I still haven't taken my 9:00pm medication. I haven't taken out my contacts or brushed my teeth or gathered my things for tomorrow.... I don't even know where to start.
12:00am. Ugh. I'm so disappointed in myself. It's already tomorrow. I finally let the dogs out. I finally take my medication. I turn off all the lights and head to the bathroom to finally take out my contacts and brush my teeth. I sneak into bed in hopes that I don't disturb Clayton who is peacefully sleeping next to me. I almost always fail, and then he knows how late I've put off coming to bed.
1:00am. Well at least I'm in bed now. But I've been quietly scrolling through random stuff on my phone like Amazon (I really don't need any more stuff in my house...), playing sudoku or solitaire, or reading news articles. Eventually my eyes begin to feel droopy and I FINALLY doze off. Only 4 hours later than I had planned to be in bed.
5:00am. My alarm goes off. I hit snooze. I hit snooze again. And once more. And finally it's 5:30 and I should already be leaving to get to the pool!!! I still have to take the dogs out, feed them, and get my belongings ready for the day since I didn't do it last night. I don't end up leaving my house until 5:50 which means I'll be at least 20 mins late to the pool.
6:20am. Rushing into the pool, hurrying up and trying to squeeze in 1000 yards as quickly as possible so I'm not late for work.
7:00am. Hopping out of the pool, rushing to get my scrubs on, and rushing to work. I make it in the nick of time, right around 7:30. I'm so caught up in all the rushing this morning that my heart rate is elevated and I feel behind on my caseload already. I hurry up and print my patient list and begin to continue to rush through my day.
12:00pm. Lunch time. Now this is something I've finally gotten better about. I make sure I take my full lunch. I usually buy at the cafeteria because I didn't plan ahead and make anything last night. Speaking of.... what will we have for dinner tonight? Oh, I don't know. I'll worry about it later. I finish eating and go for my daily lunchtime walk with a couple friends. I really enjoy this hour of my day.
1:00pm. Back at it. The afternoon always seems to move slower than the morning, but I can never seem to get enough done in those last few hours! Maybe I'm just a morning person, I don't know.
4:00pm. Time to head home and fight traffic and do this all over again.
Rinse and repeat.
I feel like a broken record. How many times have I lived this exact scenario? How many times have I talked to my therapist or my husband about ways to combat this bedtime fiasco? It seems that my lack of following a decent bedtime makes me feel frazzled for almost every hour of the day. If I fixed my bedtime and got more sleep, would each day be a little easier? A little more fulfilling? Probably. So why is it so difficult?
I finally did some google searching (probably around that 1:00am hour when I should have already been asleep) and I found that this is called "Revenge Bedtime Procrastination." You can read the article here: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/revenge-bedtime-procrastination#:~:text=Revenge%20bedtime%20procrastination%20refers%20to,popular%20on%20social%20media3.
If you didn't read the article, here's how I would sum it up: A person doesn't feel like they've given themselves enough "me time" in their day so they make up for it during the late evening hours, taking revenge on their hectic schedule by procrastinating their bedtime and using that time for themselves.
It seems that this revenge bedtime procrastination is a vicious cycle. I procrastinate on bedtime one night, which makes me feel tired and rushed the entire next day, which makes me feel like my free time is all just spent making up for the lack of things I got done while I was tired. So I guess I take revenge on my sleep schedule to make sure that I get to do everything I wanted to do that day. I don't know how much sense I can make of all of this since I'm not a sleep professional, but I think that it's probably the culprit in my lack of sleep. I meet all 3 factors listed in the article, especially the awareness that staying up late will have negative consequences the next day.
This is not something I'm diagnosing myself with - I simply think it's a phenomenon that I experience quite often. So what do I do with this information? Every wellness podcast or lecture I've listened to hounds on the importance of quality and quantity of sleep. I'm just unsure how to get there.
I have a couple things I'm going to try. I have a plan of action.
I'm going to ask my husband for some additional accountability even though I know he's tired of trying to force me to get ready for bed at a decent time. Sorry, Clayton!!
I'm going to actually start listening to those medication and bedtime alarms on my phone instead of ignoring them. We'll see how this goes...
I'm going to do something relaxing before bed that does not include my phone. Last fall I had started doing daily journal entries in the morning before work. I have since let this fall through the cracks because my work schedule changed and I lost that half hour in the mornings to write out my thoughts. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed writing these journal entries and I'm going to start doing these in bed at night to help me "wind down" like my Fitbit prompts me to do.
I plan to continue my gratitude journal. This does not always have to be written down. I often share them out loud with Clayton and he does the same with me. We state 3 things we are thankful for that happened within the last 24 hours. It can be something big, like a job promotion, or just one small moment that you noticed, like simply taking the time to appreciate a ladybug on a plant this evening.
Just like the revenge bedtime procrastination article says, sometimes this happens due to a lack of perceived free time in my day. Now, I have plenty of free time. I usually watch TV during that time and it just seems to slip away from me. But I think if I used that free time for something more purposeful or more enjoyable, I may perceive that I actually got to utilize my free time that day and not feel like I have to seek revenge. Maybe I'll go for a longer walk, take my dog to the dog park, try a new recipe, meet up with a friend, play a board game with Clayton, or do some arts and crafts. The possibilities are endless.
I hope that I can actually start utilizing these strategies around bedtime and that they make my days much more manageable. I'll keep you updated. No more revenge bedtime procrastination for me!
Do you struggle with anything like this? Do you feel heightened anxiety before bedtime? If so, what do you do to combat your bedtime procrastination or help you sleep a little easier? I'd love any tips!