New research sheds light on the psychological mechanisms that help explain why being more oriented towards the future is associated with reduced bedtime procrastination. The findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, indicate that a person’s perspective of time is related to their ability to control their impulses and maintain their focus on long-term interests.
The study was based on Temporal Self-regulation Theory, which suggests that people are more likely to engage in goal-oriented behavior when they have a strong future time perspective. This means that they believe that their future selves will be better off as a result of their present actions.
Individuals with a weak future time perspective, on the other hand, are less likely to engage in goal-oriented behavior. They may be more likely to procrastinate or give up on their goals when faced with difficulties.
The study included 3,687 Chinese students from six different provinces. The sample ranged in age from 11 to 23, with an average age of approximately 16.
The students completed a Chinese version of the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory, a validated self-report questionnaire that measures future time perspective. They also completed assessments of problematic smartphone use, bedtime procrastination, and self-control/impulsivity.
The researchers found that more future-oriented students tended to exhibit higher levels of self-control and lower levels of impulsivity, which in turn was associated with reduced bedtime procrastination. Lower levels of impulsivity were also associated with less problematic smartphone use, and less problematic smartphone use was associated with reduced bedtime procrastination.
The findings support the hypothesis that being more future-oriented is associated with better outcomes because it is linked to enhanced self-regulatory processes
“Future-focused people have a higher expected value for long-term beneficial goals and are more aware of the value of regular sleep for their health and function,” the researchers wrote “Furthermore, they fully consider the potential link between current behavior and distant outcomes and perceive themselves as moving forward from the present moment into the future, which makes the connection between the present and the future closer. Thus, the higher value-rated and perceived temporal proximity of sleep prompted individuals with higher future time perspective to have stronger sleep intentions and go to bed on time.”
The study, “Future Time Perspective and Bedtime Procrastination: The Mediating Role of Dual-Mode Self-Control and Problematic Smartphone Use“, was authored by by Bo Mao, Shuai Chen, Mingchen Wei, Yali Luo, and Yanling Liu.