Epiphany: It Takes a Lot of Energy To Decide To Go To Bed.

I can’t believe it took me so long to realize this.

I’d always assumed that feeling tired would push me to go to bed. Makes sense, right? I’m tired, so I want to go to bed.

Nope! It’s a Secret of Adulthood: Going to bed takes a real burst of psychic and physical energy.

When I’m tired, I find it too taxing to switch tasks, and I can’t face the thought of washing my face,  taking out my contacts, and all the rest, so I stay on Facebook for forty minutes.

In fact, research shows that lack of sleep leads to dithering the next day, too. One study estimated that for every hour of interrupted sleep during the previous night, people wasted 8.4 minutes in online puttering—checking email, refreshing celebrity-gossip websites, and the like.

What do you think–do you find that it takes a lot of energy to decide to go to bed? Are you ever so tired you stay up, rather than go to sleep?

  • Gail

    This is so true! I find myself doing the channel flip on tv because I don’t want to get up and go to bed!

  • Carrie Willard

    Yes. I solved this in my life by washing my face, moisturizing, brushing teeth earlier. the best part is, brushing early prevents late snacking. I lost weight effortlessly doing this with no other changes. 🙂

    • I like this idea! I’ll try it and see if it helps me to lose some weight and get more sleep too. Thanks for the information!

    • Cathy

      I’ve been following this same routine. When some of my kids are getting ready for bed, I usually do as well. I used to click through channels just delaying going to bed. Now I’m much more likely go to bed earlier if I know I can crawl straight in. So true about the decrease in snacking!

      • Sasha Rasco

        I have the same happiness trick! When I’m on top of my game, I get into PJs and wash my face/brush my teeth/take out contacts when my kids are getting ready for bed. Then I’m more comfy when putting them down, really relax for my one hour or so of adult time afterwards, and can go straight to bed. And absolutely helps with preventing late night snacking.

  • peninith1

    Uh, NO. I have an early wake up time (between 5 and 6 since I have retired) and around 9 o’clock my whole being just starts to ‘close up shop’ and I know that it is time to go to bed. If I am extra tired, I have to work at staying in motion for a few minutes or another half hour so that I can keep my bedtime at nine. But I very rarely dither around not heeding the call of the pillow!

    This is one of those habits that serves me well–at one time ‘I thought about it’ (establishing a set time to settle down) and now I don’t have to think about it. My body ‘heads for the barn’ at the appointed time.

    • Sera Mattson

      I think that makes you a morning person.

  • Dee

    Yes…and no. I do find this happening. I might be watching TV with DH and the thought of brushing my teeth, getting water, etc., just seems like so much. But I obviously do it, because I’m almost always in bed before 10:30pm. My coworker has the same issue … but she regularly doesn’t get to bed until 12am, 1am, 2am… I’ve told her I just like sleep more than she does. There’s no much online or on TV better than sleep.

  • aithila

    I totally agree… it’s so anxiogenous to stop, to remain alone with our thoughts that wake up altogether just in the moment you touch your pillow! I agree also with Carrie: as long as I surf the net or watch TV i find myself in a semi-conscious state (not asleep neither awake) and I wake up just brushing teeth! I think that to wash early may be a clue!

  • Yes! The idea of all I have to do to get into bed will keep me from actually getting to bed at a decent time. Your Secret of Adulthood also just made me think of life as a little kid. Babies who don’t want to go to sleep so fuss away, little ones who will turn circles, whimper, or talk to themselves in their beds; it takes major physical and emotional energy involved for everyone to get a household to sleep. So, does the practice start young and stay with us into adulthood?

  • Jennifer

    Yes! At night I feel tired but not sleepy per se, so if it were up to me, I would stay up too late watching TV or reading a book. Fortunately my husband has a very consistent sleep-wake schedule, so I’ve made it a (necessary) habit to go to bed when he does 🙂 It took me a while to get used to, but now I’m sleeping better than ever before. Also: washing my face and putting on pajamas before I get too tired works good for me!

  • Oh, you’re exactly right! It definitely takes energy to get to bed. And what’s often worse is that I run out of steam trying to delay bed to the point where my body is all, “Okay, we’re going to sleep right here on the couch now, thank you–I don’t care what other plans you had.”

  • shokufeh

    All. the. time. I will channel flip or surf forever, half-asleep, rather than going to bed. I am better about it than I used to be, though. I now try to get ready for bed before I’m actually ready to go to bed (if that makes sense). I have no shame in lounging in my pajamas with already-brushed teeth. I also have a living room lamp that’s on a timer, which means turning out the lights is one less barrier between me and bed (and if the lights go out, it is a reminder that I need to get to bed). It’s like stretching out the burst of energy needed, rather than having to find it all at once.

    • Great Ideas, Shokufeh.

    • Liz Caruso

      Me too. I change into PJ’s, wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. right after dinner around 7 every night. Having brushed teeth the rest of the night helps with the urge for after-dinner snacking, too!

  • Lauren

    This is a great truth of life, for sure. I love sleep, but it’s sooo hard for me to make the effort to actually get to bed early! Which I know would improve my life! I think I’m falling into two traps — one, the effort it takes to get ready for bed, as you describe above. And two, my desperate desire to have as much free, me-time as possible. Why would I go to bed when there are blogs to catch up on, books to read, and House of Cards to watch! Without feeling guilty at all!

    • Carly

      That’s the crucial part for me – free, me-time! The time after the kids and husband are all snoring is so tranquil – it’s almost (almost!) too good to give up, just to be free of exhaustion the next day.

  • Laura

    I understand this completely and I, too, engage on Facebook instead of going to bed sometimes. Like many other readers, if I’ll do the bedtime ritual of washing my face and brushing my teeth, I’ll generally get in bed earlier…and pick up my iPhone to check FB or play Words With Friends!

  • Anne-Laure

    I used to feel like that too, just thinking about my before bed routine would make me procrastinate. Then I developed hypersomnia, which means that there is no staying on Facebook or anything, I just drop asleep. So my before bed routine gradually became my just after dinner routine – that way I am ready, face washed, teeth brushed and everything. If I don’t need to sleep right away I can still watch TV or read, but whenever I am tired I just go to bed. Turns out it is not going to bed that’s exhausting, just everything you have to do before.

    • Sera Mattson

      I completely agree. It’s everything to prepare going to bed. I prefer being in pajamas within the first hour of getting home, then I’m just ready to go to bed.

  • Allen Knutson

    “On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for nowhere,
    I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.” — Kenny Rogers

  • Callie

    So, so true! My bedtime to-do list includes letting the dog out, starting the dishwasher, brushing my teeth, flossing, washing my face, and then applying all of my various night creams and ointments. Some nights I’m so tired it seems impossible to do even one of those things, let alone all of them. So instead I fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV.

    • Donna

      I can relate to this, having so much to do before bed time, however, there are some nights when it’s falling asleep in front of the couch..! Never a good thing!lol!

  • kelly

    love the “secret of adulthood…” yep, it does a burst of energy – what a contradiction 🙂
    I sometimes surf the net or clean the kitchen instead of leaving it for the morning and heading to bed. I heard a speaker talk about good sleep hygiene and how he uses it in a solution focused way with people who have experienced extreme trauma or loss.

  • Mopsa Aspom

    This highly resonates with me. It’s so hard to put me in bed at a proper time… Still, when I do, it is definitely worth the effort. By the way, I’m now reading “The happiness project” and I’m loving it! It has been a very addictive reading experience 😉

  • Allison

    Oh I totally agree with you! So much so, that when asked what’s the first purchase I would make if I won a million dollars; a car, a house, new clothes all take a back seat to a year’s supply of daily contacts that I can just throw away each night!

  • Ella

    This is so true! My husband (who stays up way later than I do) harasses me to go to sleep every night starting around 10:30 because I get up super early and I get cranky if I don’t get to bed early. He literally pulls me up off the couch and turns me in the direction of the bedroom. When he is traveling I find I stay up until midnight because I am too exhausted to get ready for bed and there’s no one to make sure I do.

  • nielmalan

    My getting to bed routine includes getting out of the office early enough. (I’m a postgraduate student with no family, so work can soak up all my time if I let it.) Getting home before 6 p.m. is necessary for me so that I can have the computer switched off by 9 p.m. After that it becomes a power struggle, and I’m usually the loser.

  • Rhubarbpie

    I have spent a lot of time and effort working to get to bed earlier, in part because I tracked the amount of sleep I was getting as part of an effort to get to work on time. I then observed my mood and productivity more closely. It wasn’t hard to realize that I was less productive when I had less sleep, and my mood at work wasn’t ideal either.

    Nevertheless, it took a concerted effort (as I had done with getting to work on time) to actually get into bed sooner. This has included smartphone alarms that go off every evening (I have one alarm that “barks” — I’m still always startled by this) at various times. So, at 10:30 p.m., my alarm goes off; I know it’s time to get washed up, put anything I need to away and observe if I’m tired. (I usually am.) At 11, I might watch Jon Stewart for the first 20 minutes; by 11:30 p.m. another alarm goes off and, by 11:45, the last alarm “barks.” If I’m not in bed and ready to turn off the lights by then, I know I’ll face the consequences the next day, so it’s a tremendous motivator. (This might be easier to do if you live alone, as I do.)

    I also track how much sleep I get…and color code the entries where I’ve gotten my seven hours (that’s my current goal). It probably wouldn’t motivate everyone, but I like to see the column of olive green in my Google doc.

    This regular routine makes a big difference for me. But it took a long time to 1) decide it was important and 2) figure out what would work for me. So far, so good.

  • Erin

    I do sometimes find it difficult to go off to bed when I’m tired. The other night I was reading The Happiness Project book and though I knew I would get a better night’s sleep if I went to bed by 10:30, I put the book down and drifted off to sleep on the couch. I was so comfy where I was! I do find it easier to go to bed on time if I brush my teeth & whatnot before I’m actually ready to sleep.

  • Sarah Mueller

    I never thought of it that way, but it does make sense! I find that when I get ready for bed with my kids, I can have a more relaxing evening without being annoyed at having to go brush my teeth, etc.

  • Deidra

    My husband and I recently had this conversation. I’ve been getting worse at going to bed early, despite being more tired (chasing a toddler and being pregnant will do that to a woman!). Hitting the end of my pregnancy, sleep is harder to come by, so I’m even more unmotivated to muster the energy needed to get ready, only to lie awake, wishing for sleep. I told the husband I should really start getting ready for bed right after our daughter goes to bed, while I still have the energy.

  • Wow, finally! Yes, I sometimes just don’t want to go to sleep even when I know that I am tired. I just waste time watching TV on really uninteresting stuff. Or checking social media for no reason whatsoever. I need to get more deliberate at going to sleep when I am tired, or just if I want to get up early. Great post.

  • Kate

    Funny you brought this up, as I was JUST talking about this with a friend yesterday. Between tidying up, checking the doors/windows, washing my face, brushing my teeth, laying out tomorrow’s clothes, putting on pjs, getting water for my nightstand, etc., etc., I feel like going to bed has become a half-hour chore!
    I TRY to do some of these things earlier in the evening (brushing my teeth right after dinner also helps me to not snack!), rather than when I start to feel tired later.

    • Ruth

      Going to bed is a half-hour chore! When I was trying to get myself back into the habit of going to bed on time, a friend suggested a bedtime ritual, so I really looked at what I needed to do, and now I turn everything (TV/computer/living room lights) off at nine, and then I have time to do all the getting ready for bed things and go to bed at nine-thirty. I found that acknowledging that it takes twenty to thirty minutes to get ready for bed and just scheduling that in helped.

  • Veronique

    I go to sleep religiously every night at ten, read for fifteen/twenty minutes then go to sleep. I used to sleep like a log and be cheerful and energetic all the next day…now with menopause approaching I wake up periodically throughout the night and wake up in the morning feeling tired and sore all over but still manage to be cheerful just not as energized as I used to be. I have tried going to bed later and do sleep through but am grumpy which seems strange because you would think with all my waking up I get less sleep than if I went to bed later and slept through. I exercise, eat well…I would so love one good night’s sleep.

    • Leisa729

      Try Melatonin (over the counter) helps regulate your internal sleep clock….it really helps!! Without all the side effects of the “sleep medicines”.

      • Veronique

        Yes I have heard of it but also heard one of the side effects is headaches. Is this true?

  • YES. Absolutely agree. I find myself too tired for my bedtime rituals/habits frequently, and then I ultimately (after many wasted minutes) galvanize myself to get it done. You are spot on her, Gretchen!

  • mj

    Ha! This makes me feel so much better. I am the same way, then I beat myself up. Now that you have shared your experience and analyzed the scenario,I think it will be easier for me to channel my energy into “bed time” rather than other time-wasting, self-sabotaging behaviour.

  • Jenni B

    Was doing that now, just started reading this blog instead! Will go to bed! Thanks for the reminder

  • YES! One thing I do in the evening after running with my dog is spend an hour or so playing a video game I enjoy….since the game involves sitting at my desk chatting with a handful of good friends, it’s MUCH easier than getting cleaned up and ready for bed. Luckily, most of the friends I chat/game with are much better at keeping reasonable bedtimes than I am, and I lose interest in the game when nobody else is on. 🙂

  • Megan

    This is the story of my life. Gretchen, has any of your research indicated ways to fix this problem?

  • Rachel Gillespie

    I do exactly the same thing! I try to do what Carrie does and get organised earlier in the evening. It helps when I do it but I usually don’t. I don’t know about you but, when my children were little, we had bedtime rituals every night. I’d like to do that with myself. I’d like to have a bedtime before which I spend thirty minutes getting ready.

  • bill

    Indeed.The other day I worked late into the night. And it’s near early morning. I feel unable two sleep at all, although I feel tired.Yesterday, I tried to plan before sleep,for example, I would walk in the room for a while and decide to go to sleep after 3 yawns. It seemed helpful.

  • bill

    Indeed.The other day I worked late into the night. And it’s near early morning. I feel unable two sleep at all, although I feel tired.Yesterday, I tried to plan before sleep,for example, I would walk in the room for a while and decide to go to sleep after 3 yawns. It seemed helpful.

  • So true. If I wait until I’m tired before I get ready for bed, then all that “getting ready for bed” stuff seems to wake me up and I can’t fall asleep. Lately I’ve at least tried to get into pajamas right after dinner so that, at the very least, I can fall into bed even if I haven’t brushed teeth, etc. I find it very hard not to take care of “one more thing” before bedtime even though it wakes me up and makes me (temporarily) no longer tired so I stay up longer. I’m trying to turn off my computer before 10 p.m. — although I’m only about 50% successful at that.

  • After reading this post yesterday, I’ve realized that I have a great difficulty with transitions in general. The “turn off the lights and go to sleep” is one example of this as I’ll even pointlessly scroll through the Netflix selection and eventually end up watching part or the entirety of some B movie instead of going to sleep, because I’m in TV watching mode. Or I’ll do the same thing with a book…just keep on reading until it is ridiculously late or I’ve finished the book.

    While I think it is more pronounced at bed time (because I’m exhausted), I think I have the same problem throughout the day, any time the situation merits “switching from X to Y” I find it difficult to switch. It leads to me doing a given thing (or kind of thing) until I’m burned out on it–and then I won’t touch it at all for a long while.

    Not sure yet how to make use of this idea yet, though. 🙂

    • …just caught myself reading earlier happiness-project blog entries to avoid transitioning to doing something else… 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions lately, and how to manage them. It’s funny – this is one of those subjects that people discuss a great deal in connection to little kids, but not with adults – and yet adults struggle with transitions too.

      • peninith1

        My older son has always had terrible trouble with transitions, starting from sleep / awake or awake / sleep when he was a baby. I think that we really do need to work hard at conditioning ourselves to make transitions, and a fixed or at least pretty settled go-to-bed or get-up routine is really REALLY important. I find it so, even though I don’t have to get to the office any longer.

      • aperry27

        Gretchen, I’d love for you to write about transitions! I have also heard about it in relation to kids, especially kids with special needs, but I often struggle with transitions as an adult. I have a lot of difficulty if plans get changed last minute, in particular. I also have trouble at work switching from a meeting with colleagues to emails to other work, etc. I feel that my brain needs some space to go from one way of thinking to another. I’d love some tips for transitions for adults!

        • Sera Mattson

          I second that. I would love to read more about transitions. It’s not just going to bed that I have a problem with, getting up can be just as bad regardless of my quality of sleep. Not to mention the other in between doings and doings.

  • molly

    So glad to know I’m not the only one. I want to go to bed but I sit on facebook or email, and think, why the heck am I sitting here? There’s nothing interesting and I need to go to bed. I actually feel better just knowing I’m not as pathetically weak-willed as I thought I was! Sounds like the point of departure is the decision to get on the computer. And that is easier to resist than getting off once I am on…and tired.

  • Andrea

    It’s true that when you’re really tired, making that transition to go to bed (go upstairs, brush your teeth, put on your pjs, etc) can seem onerous, but I think it also works the other way around, too. Having a set of tasks that you always do can help you go to bed when you aren’t necessarily tired. Recently I had to get up two hours earlier than my normal time for an early meeting at work. I knew I would be tired the whole day if I didn’t get to bed earlier, too. I wasn’t feeling tired when I knew I should go to bed, but I just started doing my usual routine (which takes about 20 minutes), and by the end it was like someone had flipped a switch and I fell right to sleep. I think getting ready for bed right before I go to bed has helped condition my brain to know when to go to sleep.

    • gretchenrubin

      Excellent strategy.

  • Kara Daly

    Yes, I am familiar with this problem! When I feel like I can’t switch gears I compromise with a few minutes of meditation. It’s still a change, but it’s really not doing much but sitting and being quiet so it doesn’t take much effort, physically. Usually after a few minutes I am either so anxious because I can’t get into meditation mode that going to bed sounds like a great idea, or I have enough energy to run the last mile and get into bed.
    -Kara Daly


  • Kins

    I’m probably the worst example as I’m a sleeper. Always have been since I was a kid. Parents loved the fact at 8 pm I went to bed myself. I’m single too which makes it easier. I get home, feed pets, do all chores (face wash, teeth, early) – like one gal said below, also prevents late eating/snacking. I’m in bed by 8 pm to watch TV and most nights I’m lucky if I make it until 9:30. Get up at 6 am and am never tired at work and have enough morning energy to work out. But I need a solid 8-9 hours a night. And on weekends, I love a good nap on Sunday afternoon 🙂

  • Lisa K.

    I have this challenge every night! I’ve realized part of the problem is that I need to unwind before going to bed, and that doesn’t usually happen until 10 p.m. It’s virtually impossible to prepare supper, do dishes, exercise, help kids with homework and put kids to bed any sooner. I just can’t go to bed without having adequate quiet time to relax and unwind.

  • Fiona

    Hi Gretchen,

    I’m a reader from Australia and last night I had a disturbed night’s sleep which is why I’m here now reading posts at 10:24 on a Thursday morning when I should be working. Should is a loaded word here, but you get what I mean. I always end up procrastinating after a poor night’s sleep now that I think about it consciously – I’ll have to be more aware of this in the future.

    Thanks for the insight

  • All the time, even though I’m quite a night owl. My hubby’s even worse though. We have lots to do and read and watch and talk about and before we know it it’s 11.45pm and we’re freaking out and muscling each other out of the way trying to get to the bathroom sink and our toothbrushes!
    I would rather go to bed earlier and have a calmer start to my sleep and we manage it sometimes but the ipad is my worst enemy, I am just addicted to it.
    Also, if I went to bed earlier I’d really miss that time hanging out with my hubby. Always going to bed at different times feels kinda sad!

    • Sera Mattson

      I love hanging out with my husband too. And part if my problem is that I don’t love my day job so I’d rather stay up enjoying myself, no matter how tired, than go to bed early so that I can be awesome in a place where I don’t. It backfires though.

      • I think that’s my husband’s feeling too – he works so hard and doesn’t want to have to go to bed early because it feels like another ‘work-related’ decision. I get it, but I still think we’d function better on more sleep 🙂

  • Keren Threlfall

    Definitely, although I *thought* you actually touched on this point in your book! 🙂 At least, that’s the application I took away.

  • Pete

    Not sure I know what you’re talking about. Last night I was very tired and went to bed early. Switching from contact lenses to glasses usually happens right after dinner because I want to give my eyes a chance to “breathe”. Once in bed, I had just enough energy to finish chapter 7 of your book. Then I was so tired that I barely had the energy to turn out the light. Not that it’s like this every night, but I must say that for me it takes the “opposite of energy” to decide to go to bed. I know I’m in the minority here, which is why I feel compelled to speak out.

  • Going to sleep and then trying to wake up are tasks for sure! Boy I’m glad you wrote this as I thought maybe I was the only one who felt this way.
    What I’m doing… starting to do… is have a cup of tea of Sleepytime tea a night. To teach my body “it’s midnight and it’s time for sleep”… I’ll see how that works in 30 days 🙂
    I also have noticed that when I make my bed in the a.m. or at least make it presentable, and at night go to bed, I’m more eager to get into a bed that is made.

  • JRE

    I think of it less as needing the energy to go to bed (true) and more as not wanting to ‘give up’ and go to bed. Since I work most of the day, it is my precious free time when I get home and I can’t get back all those hours at work that I would have liked to have used at home. When I am at home, I relax, check email, surf and ‘live a little’ before going to bed. I regret that the day is finally over.

  • Ha, funny, my boyfriend was just saying this very thing a few minutes ago. I like to wind down by meditating before I go to bed, which for me is similar to shutting down a computer. When I start falling asleep on the couch, I get up and go to bed.

  • Monica

    What struck me most, was the the comment that for every hour of interrupted sleep, people wasted 8.4 minutes doing mindless activities. I thought about this all day long and then I had my own epiphany. It takes too much effort to go to bed, because I’m catching up on things I haven’t done. But I haven’t done them because I wasted the time throughout the day doing brainless activities as a result of being too tired in the first place!! Brilliant.

  • Rebecca Liz Ruth

    Wow, I am huge bedtime procrastinator. I like the tips about doing my routine earlier… for me, too, the worst part is the dread of having to do the whole routine when I’ve already been texting way too long with my bestie. I feel like I go from perky to slumped in the space of about 10 seconds and then I stay up forEVER once exhaustion hits. – PS I just started reading the Happiness Project, Gretchen, I’m about 3 chapters in and loving it!! Discovering that you have a blog, too, is like finding a roomful of chocolate 🙂

  • catling

    This happens to me ALL THE TIME. Ugh 🙁 I’m glad its not just me….

  • seahag56

    Going to bed DOES take a lot of energy – I have to put things away, go upstairs, clean my glasses, wash my face, change clothes… Just thinking about it exhausts me!!! Going to bed sounds so easy, and the actual getting into bed and turning out the lights is simple, but the PREPARATION leading up to it – UGH.

  • Avalon Morley

    Absolute story of my life.

  • Emily

    I love reading things that make me say, “It’s not just me?!?!” I can’t count the times I have said, “I’m too tired to go to bed.”

  • My willpower is totally drained by 9 p.m. and I find it hard to stop working and get ready for bed. So around that time I sometimes allow myself a cup of hot cocoa or soy/honey chai tea (for a little glucose burst to the brain for a last surge of will power) so by 9:30 I have the energy to close things up and go to bed. Reminding myself that the choice is not between going to bed or reading one more article/writing one more email but actually between the latter and living a really zestful, healthy life.

  • Maria

    So, so true. I will literally be falling asleep at the keyboard but lack the energy to walk up the stairs, wash my face and go to bed.

  • T-Piddly

    YES! I go through this almost every night. I know it’s a combination of 1. I feel like late night is the only time I get to do what I want instead of having to take care of job/family/house… 2. Transition Anxiety—(have you read article by Martha Beck?)—I have a horrible time transitioning or stopping doing something and starting something else 3. I’m naturally a night owl, so I have the most energy and feel the most creative just when I should be going to bed if I want to get 7-8 hours of sleep 4. Cannot seem to get myself to follow a routine… Anyway, I could go on and on with the excuses. Thank you Gretchen for letting me know I’m not the only one. And thank you for your books and posts—you really are amazing!

  • Andrew

    Hah! Yes; finally someone else who understands this! I used to often make the fatal mistake, after coming home from work, of sitting in front of the TV – this makes it so much harder to go to bed when I’m tired, and, thus, I’m tired tomorrow, and the vicious circle continues…

  • Mono

    Definitely. Finally I fall a sleep on the couch hugging the lap top with what I have worn to work on. No brushing the teeth, no face wash, no PJs. Then waking up feeling disgusted and overwhelmed. One vicious circle in deed.

  • Sherry

    Me, too! Finally someone understands!

  • bellar.

    It’s not just a secret of adulthood. I’ve just finished the homework I should do today, it’s late, but I can’t seem to decide to go to sleep.

  • Femi

    I thought I was crazy for having so much trouble going to sleep. I definitely waste an embarrassing amount of time reading articles or playing solitaire in the evenings. This confirms that I’m self-destructing when I do this! I need to get better about switching to reading a calming book or something to wind down. Oy!

  • I used to find that in the past if I had a bunch of things to do before bed, it would require lots of effort. Which isn’t great when you are feeling sleepy or have nodded off and woken up to find its the early hours of the morning. So I have taken to doing what I need to do before bed earlier on in the evening. So If I get into this position I can just simply go to bed.

    I find that if I am engrossed in a series on TV it makes me stay up. Its the “Just one episode more” syndrome which keeps me up. The ability to stream series over the internet encourages this. I think this is a bad habit to get into over time. I think the answer to this is to have a specific time to go to bed, maybe even set an alarm to remind you to go to bed until it becomes a habit.

  • Joanna

    Yes! Or more often, I put off getting ready for bed, end up falling asleep on the couch, then waking up at 3 am and still having to wash my face, brush my teeth, take out my contacts, etc. so that by the time I’ve done all that I’m wide awake and it takes forever to fall back asleep!

  • Yes! I found your post when I Googled, “Sometimes I’m too tired to go to bed.” Your write-up explained why, thanks!

  • cavyherd

    GAAHHHH!!!! YES!!! THIS!!!!!

    Well? Well??

  • Regina Bahten

    Thank you for giving me this insight! I have always blamed by bedtime-avoidance on my inner five-year-old who is afraid to miss anything, but I guess she has an accomplice! Who knew I was so goofy!

  • Jeanine Huijbregts

    Absolutely yes. It helps me to use an app on my phone that gives me an alarm when it’s time to go to bed.

  • Yup. All of that. Exactly that. I’ve actually even said to my husband, “I’m too tired to go to bed.” And he was like, “What does that even mean?”
    Now I know.

  • Le Genou de Claire

    Yes!! So, true!! This is why I’m following what you said about putting an alarm to signal bedtime. I also make it into a habit (having read part of your book Better than Before), as soon as my son goes to bed, take off my makeup, brush my teeth, get into my PJ so I can go to bed right away without much “stalling” or “thinking” and when the alarm goes off, off to bed I go.

  • Flamish Marmish

    Hi Gretchen!
    I’ve just discovered your podcast and been listening to them ever since. I’m even looking to my driving to and from work in traffic jams – the worse the traffic jam is the better!
    Got 4 questions/comments for you:
    1. What are the mailing issues your sister always mentions?
    2. I am at episode 11 and I do hope you change the ad text for Framebridge. Could you please change it a little in every episode? At least add or substract a couple words here and there because I learned your bulky cameras and oldschool way of framing by heart.
    3. In the episode when you are talking about going to bed you say that the problem is that the person who is looking forward to reading at home when she’s at work but when she actually makes it home she can’t make herself reading, is that she’s an obliger and just needs a help of an accountability partner to commit to reading. But it doesn’t explain why she WANTS to read when she’s in the office and she suddenly DOESN’T WANT TO when she finally has a chance to follow her desires. We all know that we follow our real desires fervently – if you want to eat a pizza when at work you’re not gonna suddenly stop wanting it when you get a chance to have it. What do you think?
    4. In the episode about indulging your innner toddler Elisabeth gives herself a demerit for “being such a baby” with her husband. That’s not at all in line with indulging your inner toddler – everyone is entitled to their feelings and emotions.

    Thank you for your podcast. It definitely makes me happier and gives me lots food for thought – it’s the first time in the last 5 years I actually cared about making my point of view known to a stranger. Although it might be because you both don’t feel like strangers to me anymore.