Using mental contrasting with implementation intentions to reduce bedtime procrastination: two randomised trials

Timothy J. Valshtein, Gabriele Oettingen, Peter Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: The importance of getting a good night sleep is critical, yet for many this remains elusive. Bedtime procrastination—the notion that people delay going to bed for no legitimate reason—is one area that has received little attention, despite its associations with worse sleep outcomes. In the present research, we investigated how to effectively self-regulate bedtime procrastination. Design: In two studies (N1 = 383, N2 = 221), undergraduate students participated either in an online self-regulation exercise called mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) or a motivationally-relevant control exercise (Study 1) or a sleep hygiene control group (Study 2). We then assessed outcomes three weeks (Study 1) or one week (Study 2) later. Main Outcome Measures: We assessed commitment to reduce bedtime procrastination and self-reported bedtime procrastination using two different measures. Results: We found that MCII (compared to control) increased commitment to reduce bedtime procrastination. In both studies this corresponded to a reduction in the average minutes of bedtime procrastination per night. Conclusion: MCII is a simple and cost-effective self-regulation tool for reducing bedtime procrastination. Future research should seek to reveal the mechanisms that undergird bedtime procrastination, as well as understand the present findings in other populations and contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology and Health
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • mental contrasting with implementation intention
  • motivation
  • procrastination
  • Self-regulation
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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