The two main reasons people stay up later than they know is good for them
A good night's sleep CRUCIAL for balanced hormones and metabolism in general. It's at night that we recover and rebuild. In fact, every organ has its "time" and from 11pm to 3am it's gallbladder and liver time. This is why you would ideally be in bed at 10pm, so you give those organs the chance to rest and start their detoxing, hormone balancing work. Chronic insufficient sleep contributes to hormonal imbalances, inflammation, adrenal fatigue and eventually degenerative diseases.
Usually there are two main reasons why people stay up late voluntarily (as opposed to neighbors keeping them up).
1. Too excited
If you feel too excited to go to sleep "that early", you might want to consider your daily habits that might be messing up your hormones, especially your balance of melatonin and cortisol. Cortisol should be low in the evening, while melatonin should be high. However, due to chronic stress, consumption of caffeine and alcohol (esp. in the afternoon), evening exercise, excessive sitting or exposure to artificial blue light from screens or mobile phones, Cortisol can stay high, impeding sleep. This launches a vicious cycle, because the later you stay up, the more tired you will be in the morning, the mores stress sensitive you will feel throughout the day, the more need for coffee and sugar you will have, etc. etc.
So break this vicious cycle by:
- Eliminating stimulants such as coffee, black tea, green tea, Mate tea and also raw cacao) esp. in the afternoon (but for many, especially women, even the morning coffee might interfere with sleep)
- Exercising ideally in the morning, afternoon or early evening. Some gentle yin yoga or walking in the evening won’t do harm though and might even help inducing sleep.
- No more screens (TV, phone, laptop) 2-3h before sleep - I know this one is hard and I do not completely comply myself, but it really does make a difference. If you really cannot avoid it (i.e. in the weekend) get yourself one of those blue-light filtering orange glasses (and install f.lux on your devices).
- Establishing a bedtime routine, involving calming activities, such as stretching, meditation, a herbal tea, filling in a gratitude journal...
2. Not fulfilled
If on the other hand, you do not want to go to bed "that early" because it gives you the feeling that you "do not have a life" then, you might want to reconsider your time & priority allocation throughout the about 15 waking hours you probably have. If most of your "real life" happens after work & exercise, then the solution is not stealing on your sleep, but designing your day in a way that it leaves you feeling fulfilled. After all, life = light & day, while "death" (sleep) = dark & night. So we should live during the day and sleep during the night. Ironically, if we do not sleep at night, we are usually also less able to live at day (because we are tired).
Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule: Occasionally, it can be worth it to go to bed late. For me it’s probably once a week on average. But apart from that I truly enjoy going to sleep early (which might mean 10pm, but also 9pm or even 8.30pm), because the day after I feel just so much more refreshed, productive and "alive", rather than this "zombie-like" feeling I get from insufficient sleep.
So if you are constantly tired, the first place to start is getting more sleep! Simple as that. If you are a parent, getting to bed earlier will also help you cope with babies or young children waking you up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Rather than blaming your tiredness on them, take the opportunity they are offering you to adjust your own habits.
Hope that was helpful. More to come!