How to break habit of watching TV, playing computer games and get a good night’s sleep


I work long hours. To relax before going to bed, I watch TV or play computer games. My late nights have made me tired the next day, but it’s difficult to break this habit. What can I do?

People who delay sleep even though they feel sleepy or tired do so because they prefer to do things like play games, watch their favourite dramas or chat with friends on their electronic devices. The pleasure they get from such activities is far greater than the fatigue they feel the next day, but they are unable to break the habit for various reasons. They are likely to have poor self-control and are habitual procrastinators in other aspects of their lives. They may also be suffering from stress at work or at home, and so try to exhaust themselves to avoid facing their problems or inner thoughts.

The adverse effects of this so-called revenge bedtime procrastination go beyond developing or exacerbating insomnia, circadian (the natural sleep-wake cycle) and other sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation can impair health and worsen medical conditions like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, impaired immunity and certain types of cancer. Poor sleep can also adversely affect a person’s mood, cognition, and academic and work performance.

This phenomenon is becoming more common as activities that compete for our attention proliferate. There is an ever increasing amount of entertainment content, games, social media and e-commerce apps designed for instant gratification, leaving us craving for more, even when we are tired and should go to bed. After a long day, some people are just too tired to make logical decisions, such as prioritising sleep instead of staying up to catch the latest games or dramas.

To break this habit:
• Make sleep a priority
• Set a strict bedtime schedule
• Have an hour of device-free time before bedtime
• Seek help if insomnia or stress deter sleep