Compulsively stay up late / procrastinate bed
I almost never post on this forum because I find that I forget to use it as much as I could, but there's a topic that's been bothering me so much and I don't know where else to find camaraderie around it.
I absolutely, severely compulsively stay up late at night regardless of how tired and sleep-deprived I am. This is NOT insomnia and it drives me crazy when well-meaning people in recovery (or not) try to suggest ideas for falling asleep - my problem is not falling asleep, not at all! My problem is getting myself to go to bed.
It's so frustrating. Sleep deprivation SEVERELY affects my mood and ability to be present for my life, use positive tools of recovery and thought patterns, abstain from negative thinking and practice the principles of the program and my spiritual path. I get angry at myself - my thoughts get extremely negative when I'm chronically tired; my self-hating mindset takes over, and I see the world through a cloud. I'm also much less able to connect with my intuition (my communion with a Higher Power) and subsequently have a more difficult time than usual (which is already challenging) making decisions - I question everything and feel like I can't trust my choices...
That's a winded way to say, it's very destructive. But I seem to be constiutionally incapable of putting myself to bed when I most need the sleep. I even find that, the more sleep-deprived I get, the harder it is for me to take care of myself by making a choice to go to bed at an hour that would allow me to get the rest I need.
This pattern is directly related with my eating disorder, which is frustrating, because multiple times I've relapsed due to the stress and anxiety of lack of sleep. Even when I'm not eating compulsively, I find ways to stay up late and deprive myself. Sometimes my staying up late is pushing to get too much done in one night; sometimes it's bullshit surfing on the internet, tweezing my leghairs (yep), reading cultural magazines and getting overwhelmed by the 18 things I want to do in the next week... it's completely unmanageable.
One thing that helps me is trusting that the remaining things will get done when they need to and that it's safe to let them go for the night. However, I also think I use staying up late at night (and eating) as a release - this is a time "for me" and it feels infinite when I'm in whatever I'm doing and that feels relieving and abundant to me, in some false way. I look up at the clock on my computer and think, "Oh, I've got an hour"; then two pass and I think, with a little bit of guilty, "Oh, I can still get 6 hours of sleep," until comes, "Oh shit, it's so late. Fuck, I HAVE to go to bed," to one more email, one more internet news story, one more fill-in-the-blank.
It's procrastination of going to bed and it feels so silly because I typically like going to bed when I allow myself to, but I think there's also something about going to bed exhausted that feels safe to me - there's no chance I'll struggle to fall asleep because my body is already at a breaking point - I crash immediately. When I do allow enough time to go to bed, sometimes I do struggle to stop thinking for a period of time before I finally fall asleep, but I don't consider myself an insomniac and very rarely wake up in the middle of the night.
It's just so frustrating to do this and gets in the way of my recovery in all areas. I'm much more likely to procrastinate during the day because my eyes are closing, and that becomes an excuse not to do the things I don't want to do - I'm literally physically incapable by then. And then I start the cycle over again that night, despite promising myself in the morning that I would go to bed by 10pm... Do you know how many times in the past 15 years I've gone to bed at 10pm? It's a MIRACLE when it happens!
So, anyway, there's a lot wrapped up in this and I want to talk to other people who struggle with this issue - please - NOT with insomnia. I know I can't be the only one, because what I've discovered in 12-Step programs is that I am NEVER the only one! Thank god!
Please respond if you have struggled with this issue and have any thoughts about what motivates your behavior.
The only thing that has ever helped me is "bookending" bed, but that takes willingness to plan in advance. When I've tried to set this up with a "bedtime buddy" who also struggles, I've seen that we have a tendency to not show up for each other. I find it's best to get help from someone who does not actively struggle with this issue because it's more motivating to me - I admire what they have!
Thanks for reading, love you all and am grateful you're here,
- Login to post comments
Thank you for sleep deprv responses!!
Wow, I love all of your precious responses, thank you so much! I am SO glad i'm not alone, so, so, glad. You all had wonderful suggestions. And YES, the way I found out about UA, actually, was being up late compulsively on the computer one night and finding "time drunkenness" in a search. I had been saying for years that I wanted to start "Time Debtors Anonymous" before I knew PA or UA existed.
I agree with everyone that it's a combination of:
1) avoidance of the actual tasks of going to bed: finishing dishes, brushing teeth, clearing off any clutter from my bed, etc.;
2) difficulty accepting that whatever has happened in this day is done and that I will not get done the 25 things I unrealistically wanted to before 1am;
3) a genuine seeking for relaxation time as a result of not allowing enough space for it during the daytime; **THIS IS A BIG ONE, I BELIEVE
4) some sort of fear of being in the still, quiet space of actually going to sleep without the almost drunkenness of sleep deprivation, as someone here described it;
5) avoidance of the following day.
I'm sure I'm missing some, but looking at the above helps me understand specific steps I can take to ameloriate each of those issues, as you guys have suggested:
Solution 1) Breaking down the bedtime prep steps into small pieces, and shifting them one hour earlier than I think they should be. This might just mean not cooking that extra thing I wanted to cook before tomorrow, etc.
Solution 2) Having a list of 1-3 priority items to do each day and letting that be my focus, so that I'm not focused on the 25 other things I wish to get done that are physically impossible for me to accomplisha ll at once.
Solution 3) Starting to leave more space in my weekdays/nights so that my spirit is not begging for free time when I get home. This might mean buying dinner instead of cooking sometimes.
Solution 4) Having some sort of bedtime ritual that is pleasurable, not just my daily 10th step type writing and keeping my #'s, etc.: maybe reading a particular book, applying lavender (as someone here suggested and sounds lovely!), anything *nice*.
Solution 5) Trusting as I am closing this day that I don't have to worry about the next one - it will be what it is and I will address what comes when it's there.
Thank you guys so much for helping me work through this!
PS - Walter, I'm so sorry for your loss and I love the language you're using around walking through this process. Sounds very courageous and mindful and I just want to commend you and send a lot of compassion your way!
I’m taking notes !
Wow, just signed on and this subject came up ! It’s been my problem for a while now.
I’m taking notes on the things I can use (or would like to try, anyway) :
« if it was past midnight and Claire wasn't in bed yet she had to clean her room or declutter her table or do the dishes, just something that she didn't really enjoy to do. »
« Instead of waiting till bedtime to floss, brush, wash my face and get undressed, I'm doing it right after I eat dinner. About a half hour before bedtime I'm setting my timer to go off … »
« I've decided to try the 'trigger' method. When I go to bed - I'm not sure if it needs to be going to bed on time or not - I'm daubing the back of my left hand with a lavender stick and sniffing it. »
« I think it's to do with not being able to let go of the past. I think it's the thought of admitting to myself that,say, Monday 23rd July 2012 has now gone for ever that terrifies me »
« I have a blank timesheet here from UA that I want to fill out since time recording is a tool they use (and I believe it's a PA tool too »
« I don't have a set "routine" for a daily bedtime »
« trying to get something out of that time that gives me "comfort" -- the dead of the night is a "safe" time when we don't usually have to DO anything important. »
(that one really speaks to me)
« an ordeal because of the other things it entails: ending your recreation for the evening, brushing, cleaning up, whatever it is that's being retained or avoided »
« maybe break it up into steps! List out your bedtime routine with all the steps you want to take before you go to bed. Set a time to start going to bed, maybe an hour or two before you'd like to actually be in bed. At that time, do one part of your routine, like changing into pajammas. Then take a break, do something else for a set amount of time.
When that time is up, do the next part of the routine, like brushing your teeth. Finally, when you've made it through the list, all you'll have to make yourself do is actually get into bed »
I’ve tried adding it onto my time recording on the rare occasions when I do it, and find it helps to have it staring me in the face all day (no judgement, no comment, just time to bed planned/actual and time up planned /actual). I’ve also tried getting into pyjamas & brushing teeth earlier than I actually want to go to bed. Haven’t noticed if it helps or
not, good idea to notice it.
I may have some advice for the person who said
« my bed isn't a place for sleeping » (sorry, can’t find you again).
Which you already know «’cos you’ve already done your own analysis. Read a good
« common sensé » Feng Shui book about bedrooms. Change the energy in
your bedroom /bed area by decluttering it and cleaning it, changing the position
of objects / the décoration etc. This will surely contribute to making the bed
room or area into « a place for sleeping ».
on going to sleep
This is a struggle I share! My earliest memory of self-will run riot was about bedtime; even as an infant I resisted sleep. Don't know why, anymore than I know why I'm alcoholic or an overeater. Just am.
In college I discovered that a short night would make me feel sick, but an all-nighter would make me feel high the whole next day. So I got in the habit (now a lifetime habit) of using all-nighters to cope with my procrastination. And that too became a seriously addictive pattern.
Last year I found myself actually trying to see how many nights I could go without sleep, trying to maintain the "high." The morning after my third night, I sought out the world record ... and learned that such "research" was done by Hitler's evil scientists on their captives, who DIED after five consecutive sleepless days/nights. Thank God I had enough soul left to be horrified, and I repented of my competitive sleep avoidance.
More research uncovered an anecedotal connection between anorexia and sleep avoidance. Interestingly, at the time my doctor was trying to treat me for anorexia. I was clueless because I'd entered food recovery 14 years earlier needing a 60-lb weight loss! I was now 10% underweight - he said - and afraid to ask my sponsor to change my food plan. But I was willing to ask a recovering anorexic in my home group to help me work the Steps on the sleep avoidance, and I've had only 2 all-nighters now in the past year. That's a BIG improvement. (I also got my courage back, changed sponsors, and my doctor is happy with my health again.)
Sometimes I still avoid sleep, but it's progress. Last week I read an article that said <7 or >9 hours of sleep results in an equivalent of 2 years' loss of cognitive function. Since both my parents had dementia and I'm pushing 60, I'm very committed now to getting my minimal 7.5 hours of good sleep every night.
But commitment and action, I find, are two different things. Lack of Power is my dilemma, and working the Steps has always been my access to the Power I need to be free. Thanks for sharing your story; hope this helps you.
me, too (bedtime procrastination)
I procrastinate on bedtime, too. I'm often in the chatbox at bedtime for that reason - checking in on my bedtime routine. I have severe ADD, and I recently read in a book on adult ADD that procrastination, and specifically procrastination on GOING TO BED, is the single most common problem for adults with ADD.
Honestly, I did not read your whole message (forgive me - I have a big to-do list today, and also a big block of text is hard for me - again, ADD). But I skimmed it and saw the part about "forgetting" to use this site, and that, too, sounds like adult ADD.
Just a thought...
About staying up late
Oh, yes, I certainly struggle with that too. And right now I have the worst sleep schedule since it's summer and I have no classes to go to. I personally always try the same things that you guys have already written here, but I remembered something else I'd like to tell you.
When I was going to school I had a classmate, let's call her Claire. She had the arrangement with her mom which was like this: if it was past midnight and Claire wasn't in bed yet she had to clean her room or declutter her table or do the dishes, just something that she didn't really enjoy to do. So she could stay up really late surfing the web but then she had to do some cleaning before going to bed, or go to bed before midnight and didn't have to do anything. I actually quite liked that it was a rule but she could make a choice. And I even thought about making the same arrangement with my parents but then that idea (not to be able to stay up a little bit late) frightened me and I didn't tell them about this. But I believe that Claire stayed up late only a couple times during the whole school year. But she wasn't a compulsive procrastinator, I guess.
I don't know, just wanted to write this, maybe someone could adjust it to themselves. Right now I don't live with my parents anymore so I can't do this, I think I could make this arrangement with myself but I'm sure that I'll definitely cheat this way :)
Have a nice productive day!
Underbeing and Putting off Bedtime Routines
You guys just described to a T what I did last night; reading and posting and compulsively eating at the computer until the wee hours, long after I was drunk from sleep deprivation.
This has been a problem for me all my life. I found I could compose more music in that demented state because it suppressed my perfectionism enough that I could be satisfied to write something, anything down instead of overediting before I could write. I generally do creative work in fits and starts, rather than nice and steady on a schedule, and although it can be very gratifying when I get it just right, it is physically and emotionally exhausting, and the "hangover" lasts for days.
I'm terrible at routines generally, but I am in the process right now of starting from scratch and making up some to preserve my health and sanity. My dearest closest love and friend died almost 4 months ago (anniversary coming up 8/29), and I am paralyzed in many ways. But I keep telling myself: I am NOT helpless; there IS a point to getting on with my life; this pain will NOT last forever; I am NOT this pain, I'm learning to carry it like a friend with me as I go about my business. I'm relearning how to be in this world without B.
I really haven't gotten a full night's sleep since B died. Even when I get to bed at a reasonable hour, I wind up getting up early, early in the am and either reading or getting on the computer. The computer is the DEBIL.
This worked for me once before, so I'll try it again and see if I can make a routine out of it.
Instead of waiting till bedtime to floss, brush, wash my face and get undressed, I'm doing it right after I eat dinner. About a half hour before bedtime I'm setting my timer to go off when it's time to get off the piano, off the computer, out of my sudoku book, etc. and "go the f*ck to sleep." I'm single now so I can get away with it.
Good luck to you all, fellow tired night owls!
“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result” -Mahatma Gandhi
Sorry to hear about your loss, Walker. You're not alone, good luck! :)
Are you sure you aren't me?
I read this with a weird sense of déja vu - I seriously wondered whether I hadn't posted it myself and forgotten about it! This is the very thing that caused me to search the web (about 3am one night) for help and which drove me to this site.
I just can't go to bed - playing one more game, or checking the weather forecast or my emails or facebook or my club's forum just one more time, and then when I've dragged myself off the computer, I'll just have some Horlicks, then I'll just read my book while I drink it ... just to the end of the chapter ... just one more chapter ... oh, now I'm hungry, I'll have some toast, and I'll just do a sudoku while I eat it ...
The thought of going to bed NOW instead of one of the alternatives just fills me with stress, even terror, right up until a certain point (usually when I'm falling asleep on my feet) when it suddenly switches off and I can get to bed at last, usually some time between 1am and 4am. If I get to bed before 1, I reckon I'm having an early night.
I've decided to try the 'trigger' method. When I go to bed - I'm not sure if it needs to be going to bed on time or not - I'm daubing the back of my left hand with a lavender stick and sniffing it. I'm hoping that in time I'll be able to do that and find I can go to bed, but that was only a couple of days ago that I read about that trick, so I don't know if it will work.
Later: I've been thinking a lot about what it is I'm afraid of about going to bed, and I think it's to do with not being able to let go of the past. I think it's the thought of admitting to myself that,say, Monday 23rd July 2012 has now gone for ever that terrifies me. I remember how on my last day at school, I hung around in the grounds long after everybody else had gone, unable to leave because even though I hadn't been happy there I still couldn't bring myself to declare my schooldays over; and I think I'm now doing this every night.
Elvira, your response totally cracked me up. THANK YOU for relating! It's so funny because I totally could have posted something at 3am and not remembered it. It honestly is like being drunk or any other compulsive high/check out when I'm staying up late like that.
Luckily, we got some good suggestions for how to move through it. Really appreciate your insight about having a hard time letting go of the day. I've realized that I really struggle with transitions from one activity to the next.
I know what you mean about
I know what you mean about people not getting certain things that addicts/compulsives do -- our symptoms cannot be solved by normal means because we're dealing with a spiritual/emotional problem. So thank God for 12 step groups!!!
I have weird issues with sleep and bedtime, not in the same way maybe, but I don't have a set "routine" for a daily bedtime. I'm erratic, all over the place. It's anyone's guess when I will go to bed, early, late -- who knows!
For me that is a direct result of being a "time drunk" -- and you might want to explore this issue in the fellowship of Underearners Anonymous (if that applies to you -- it does for me - they address underbeing, not just underearning).
I have a blank timesheet here from UA that I want to fill out since time recording is a tool they use (and I believe it's a PA tool too -- but UA has ones you can print out). But I have a terrible time sticking to it. I've occasionally logged how long things took me or wrote an estimate of what I thought they would take.
For me staying up late sometimes even if I'm tired is me trying to get something out of that time that gives me "comfort" -- the dead of the night is a "safe" time when we don't usually have to DO anything important. Might that be the reason we want to stay up late even though it will mess up our sleep/schedule?
I'm just throwing out my thoughts, don't know if any of it helps, but thanks for sharing!
p.s. I just realized part of it might also have to do with perfectionism, wanting to get all things done that we've procrastinated on, so staying up later and later thinking we might need that much more time to get it all done.
Through sleepy eyes
Sleep deprivation definitely has an effect on mood and motivation, not to mention the disappointment of not sticking to a schedule. It should be so simple - it's a process of not doing something, after all - but even getting to bed is made into an ordeal because of the other things it entails: ending your recreation for the evening, brushing, cleaning up, whatever it is that's being retained or avoided.
Have you tried scaling forward your sleep time gradually? I have tried to get to bed by 0100, although it hasn't stuck yet. It's more realistic than the other sleep times, which would have been an unrealistic shift from when I was generally getting to sleep.
- "A procrastinator's work is never done."
I don't have it that bad,
I don't have it that bad, but too often it is "one more episode of _______", a little longer on this video game, a few more pages of that book, and I'm going to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning. My problem I think is that I spend too much time in my bed. I have my laptop, so I work from my bed, eat in bed, and so on, so my bed isn't a place for sleeping.
I also get what you said about there always being more time left. When I put something off and it's due the next day, I'd rather stay up late than get up early to finish it. It feels like i have all the time in the world the night before, and as soon as I wake up there's only a certain number of hours to get it done. It almost feels like I'm not procrastinating if I stay up to get something else done.
I would recommend (and I should probably take my own advice, huh?) treating this like the rest of your procrastination. You're avoiding going to bed. So maybe break it up into steps!
List out your bedtime routine with all the steps you want to take before you go to bed. Set a time to start going to bed, maybe an hour or two before you'd like to actually be in bed. At that time, do one part of your routine, like changing into pajammas. Then take a break, do something else for a set amount of time. When that time is up, do the next part of the routine, like brushing your teeth. Finally, when you've made it through the list, all you'll have to make yourself do is actually get into bed, rather than facing the entire process at 2:00 in the morning and deciding you'd rather check your e-mail one last time.
Hope this helps!