Procrastination is a challenge we have all faced at one point or another. For as long as we are alive, we can encounter situations where we struggle with delaying, avoiding, and procrastinating on issues that matter to us.

The phrase “revenge bedtime procrastination” rings surprisingly true, but what does it mean?

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is sacrificing sleep for leisure time often driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time. For people with a stressful job that takes up the bulk of their day, revenge bedtime procrastination is a way to find a few hours of entertainment even though it results in insufficient sleep.

Although revenge bedtime procrastination can be tempting, late nights followed by early mornings can directly lead to sleep deprivation. Cutting back on sleep can significantly negatively affect mental, physical, and emotional health with short and long-term consequences.

Understanding sleep procrastination, including its symptoms, causes, and consequences, can help you recognize when you’re engaging in it. Then, you can take steps to prevent bedtime procrastination from leading to insufficient sleep.

“Bedtime procrastination” was first introduced in a 2014 paper by researchers from the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Netherlands. While the addition of the word “revenge” first came to use in China to describe how people often work 12-hour days and stay up as their only way to take back some control of their time.

That’s how revenge bedtime procrastination came to refer to a phenomenon in which people put off going to bed to engage in activities that they don’t have time for during the day. It is a way of finding time for leisure and entertainment—at the expense of sleep.

Why does it occur?

Meetings, presentations, appointments, emergencies… our everyday plate is filled with many things to do. And when it feels like they aren’t yours to enjoy, it’s easy to feel cheated or disappointed. So what’s the harm in making the most of that small window of time that you have right before you hit the bed? A little scrolling, posting, reading or binge-watching to forget the troubles of the day can’t hurt, right?

Once that small window of time turns into a doorway to hours of scrolling, posting, reading, watching, this can ruin your sleep. And when it becomes a habit of doing it night after night, you can end up exhausted the whole day due to lack of sleep.

The adverse effects of sleep deprivation caused by revenge bedtime procrastination can potentially include anxiety, worsened mood, difficulty concentrating and poor memory. 

What can we do about it?

Staying up late on occasion isn’t likely to have a major impact on your sleep schedule, health, or overall well-being. The problem is when revenge bedtime procrastination becomes a regular habit because it will lead to sleep deprivation which can hurt your ability to function the next day. And as time goes by, it will affect your physical and mental health.

If you’ve been battling sleep procrastination, trying to change your sleep approach for a few weeks is the best thing to do. If your goal is to get better rest, the first thing you can do is make sleep a top priority. Establish some quality sleep practices that can improve the overall quality and amount of sleep you get.

Another way to fight revenge bedtime procrastination is to begin your nightly routine early. Stop using electronic devices, including smartphones and tablets, for at least half an hour, ideally longer, before bed. Keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, including on non-working days.

If you are still having trouble talk to your healthcare provider as they can then look at your overall health and refer you on for expert care if needed.

Need more information on how you can sleep better?

At Sleephub we understand the struggle people endure with sleeping problems which is why we have created a comprehensive FAQs page with information for those seeking information about sleep disorders and potential solutions. You can also check out our extensive resources and subscribe to our podcast.

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