A new study published in Frontiers in Psychology concluded that poor sleep quality is correlated to a higher likelihood of procrastinating the next day.
Prior research has concluded that procrastination is a product of poor self-regulation, or the ability to refrain from engaging in unwanted behaviors. Because self-regulation is cognitively draining, a good night's sleep helps restore the mental resources that are required in order to properly self-regulate.
The researchers from the University of Amsterdam asked participants to take two questionnaires each day.
One assessed the quality of their sleep, and the other gauged procrastination levels by asking respondents to rate the degree to which they identified with statements such as “today, I promised myself I would do something, and then dragged my feet.”
The results show that low-quality sleep is correlated with a larger tendency to procrastinate in the following day.
This relationship disproportionately affects people who are low in self-control already—individuals with low-self control are highly impacted by poor sleep, while those with high self-control are not.
When both people with low-self control and those with high self-control had a poor night's sleep, the gap between procrastinatory behavior was very wide. But when both groups had high sleep quality, the difference was much smaller, suggesting that people who procrastinate aren’t inherently prone putting responsibilities off, but rather have traits that make them more susceptible to external factors that cause procrastination.