Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: How to Recognize It and How to Overcome It

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After a busy day of working or dealing with the kids, do you ever stay up late at night just to get some “me” time instead of going to sleep? If so, you may be in the habit of doing what’s called revenge bedtime procrastination or simply sleep procrastination.

Revenge bedtime procrastination was first introduced in a research paper from 2014, but the Chinese added the word “revenge” to explain people who often stay up late as a way to take back their free time after working 12-hour shifts. Rather than going to sleep at a reasonable hour, you try to get “revenge” for your busy schedule.

The good news is that if this sounds like you, we have tips for you to learn how to recognize and overcome it.

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Signs You Partake in Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

First, you must understand that staying up late doesn’t automatically signal revenge sleep procrastination. According to researchers, there are three key factors to watch for, including:

  1. The delay in going to sleep has to reduce the person’s amount of sleep at night.
  2. The delay is not caused by any other reason, such as environmental noises interfering with sleep.
  3. You must be fully aware that your behavior can result in negative consequences, but you choose to do it anyway.

It can affect people in different ways, depending on their unique situation and their reason for staying up late. For instance, parents with young children may decide to stay up late and focus on what they want to do when they don’t have to worry about their kids. Others with hectic schedules will lie on the couch and binge-watch TV because it’s the only time they can completely relax.

The most common activities people use for revenge bedtime procrastination are online shopping, watching streaming services, scrolling through social media, or even reading.

What Causes It?

Researchers have a couple of theories as to why certain people avoid sleep for additional free time. It may be that you are a night owl living an early bird’s life, or even that you simply look for ways to relieve stress after a long day. And then there are the people who just procrastinate, meaning they frequently put off important tasks.

Some studies also show that sleep procrastination may be due to a lack of self-control, as many people have less of it after a long day. As you can see, revenge sleep procrastination can stem from various reasons, so it can be different for everyone.

Sleep Procrastination Is Bad For Your Health

When you consistently go without an adequate amount of sleep, you put yourself at risk of developing sleep deprivation. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep at night, but children and young adults need more than that.

And what many people don’t realize is that a lack of sleep can affect everything from relationships and your job performance to how safely you drive. Aside from feeling exhausted, you may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Worse Memory
  • Slower Thinking
  • Anxiety, Stress, or Irritation
  • Poor Decision-Making Skills
  • Lowered Attention Span

But that’s just in the short term. Over time, sleep deprivation can increase your risk of developing more severe health problems such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Obesity
  • Hormone-related Conditions
  • Chronic Pain
  • Mental Health Concerns such as Depression

And sadly enough, sleep deprivation may even increase your odds of dying early.

How To Overcome Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

One of the best remedies for bedtime procrastination is creating healthy bedtime habits, which include sleep hygiene and creating an environment conducive to rest. It’s also worth mentioning that creating good sleep patterns does not happen overnight, so don’t give up after only a night or two.

Creating routines and following them is the best way to make the behaviors a habit. When you get to this level, you’ll realize that your bedtime ritual is automatic, which reduces the urge to stay up late.

In general, we suggest you try the following positive sleep habits:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on your non-working days.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Create a stable routine that you can easily follow every night.
  • Do not use any electronic devices for at least 30-minutes or longer before lying down. This includes tablets, laptops, cell phones, etc.
  • Do not take naps late in the afternoon or at all if possible. If you have to nap, be sure the sun is high in the sky, and you only do so for a half hour or less.
  • Skip late-night meals, as this can leave you feeling restless.
  • Watch your water intake later in the day. Of course, you want to stay hydrated, but don’t get so hydrated that you require bathroom breaks in the middle of the night as it will interrupt your sleep.

You can also try one of many relaxation techniques that work well for others. These include gently stretching, reading a book or magazine, or meditating. These techniques are great for also decreasing the stress that leads to revenge bedtime procrastination!

The other crucial step that will help is transforming your bedroom area into a quiet and relaxing zone that has a comfortable bed and soft bedding to make sleep more appealing. In fact, some experts believe that creating a sleep space that’s inviting enough can counteract the desire to procrastinate bedtime for more exciting activities.

Some tips for priming your bedroom for sleep include turning your HVAC down to between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, dimming or turning out lights, powering down every device with a screen, and using a white noise machine to mask unwanted external noises.

The Bottom Line

Don’t live life relying on caffeine and sugar to get you through. Follow our tips above to create healthy bedtime habits and consider combining them with help from a natural sleep aid such as melatonin.

If you find that your sleeping troubles are not getting any better or are affecting your daytime schedule, either consult a sleep doctor or signup up for our personalized sleep improvement program. Either way, getting enough sleep every night is vital for your overall health, so don’t procrastinate; find other times for your outlets!


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