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Revenge bedtime procrastination is something you probably do all the time but don’t realize it has a name or that it’s a major area of research. It refers to the habit of staying up late voluntarily and needlessly, even though you know it’s bad for you.
All those nights you stay up late gaming, binging on Netflix or browsing on your phone — that’s revenge bedtime procrastination and it’s bad.
Causes of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination
Revenge bedtime procrastination (what we’ll call RBP henceforth) is actually a fairly well studied psychological phenomena.
For many of us, our days are super busy and almost completely taken up by work, errands and family. We barely have time for ourselves. If you are lucky, you are able to listen to a podcast on your commute or quickly scroll social media on your lunch break.
By evening, you are exhausted but at least you finally have time for yourself. What was supposed to be a half hour show or an hour of gaming turns into a late night.
Experts say that we are trying to get revenge for the lack of control over our daytime schedule. At night is when you finally have time to unwind and can decide what to do with your time. Unfortunately, we go overboard and sacrifice sleep time to continue enjoying me-time.
Unfortunately, procrastinating on bedtime comes with consequences the next day. Because you won’t get adequate sleep, you wake up tired, fatigued and moody. The lack of sleep makes it harder to focus on work, be creative and accomplish tasks.
What’s worse is that most of the activities we stay up enjoying are bad for sleep. To be honest, many of us are not staying up late reading or knitting. It’s so much more fun to doomscroll twitter, watch TV or spend hours on TikTok.
The problem is that these activities keep us awake and alert. The light from these screens, and especially blue light, inhibits melatonin production. So even when you go to bed, it takes a long time before you get sleepy.
That’s why RBP is typically accompanied by delayed sleep latency (taking unusually long to sleep) and sleep-onset insomnia. These issues further worsen our sleep quality.
How Revenge Bedtime Procrastination Affects You
Revenge bedtime procrastination may feel fun and harmless, but it has far reaching effects on your performance and productivity. And each night you stay up late, the sleep debt piles up and symptoms of sleep deprivation get worse.
This can affect your career, school work and might even be dangerous for certain jobs like driving or factory work.
Don’t forget that sleep deprivation also affects your health. Poor quality sleep is associated with higher risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and more.
So revenge bedtime procrastination is bad for your health and wellbeing. It is also bad for your mental health as it is linked to stress, depression, and anxiety. If you are already suffering from any of these, RBP will only worsen them.
How to Avoid Revenge Bedtime Procrastination
The first step is recognizing that you have a problematic habit. Here are the three telltale signs of RBP.
- You stay up later than usual which cuts into your sleep time.
- You stay up late even though you know you should go to bed early.
- You don't have a valid reason for staying up late. No, having fun is not a valid reason for missing sleep.
If you meet all these three requirements, then you have revenge bedtime procrastination. Here are some tips for overcoming it.
Adjust Your Daytime Schedule
People stay up late because they feel like they did not have any leisure time during the day. I know it is hard to find time for fun amidst work and errands, but try to see if you can fit any downtime into your day.
It can just be half an hour of watching TV, catching up with a friend or painting. A few minutes of fun here and there can add up to a more balanced day and reduce bedtime procrastination at night.
It’s a good idea to be intentional about your downtime. Otherwise, you might find yourself only scrolling your phone whenever you have a few minutes free. This may not feel like leisure. Have a couple of fun activities you can do on your breaks or in the evening when you come home.
Have an Evening/Sleep Routine
One of the reasons it is so easy to procrastinate on bedtime is that many of us don't have a sleep routine. Without a specific bedtime in mind, it’s easier to keep goofing around late into the night.
A sleep routine can help you plan your evenings better and even get more pleasure out of them. Start your routine from when you get home to when you go to bed.
Split your time between chores, family, dinner, and me-time. Plan your evening such that you begin winding down an hour before bedtime. By then, you should have turned off your gadgets to ensure you have enough melatonin to feel sleepy.
Add one or two relaxing activities like reading a book or meditation that will help you calm down and go to sleep faster.
If you find there’s not enough time to do all the things you want before bedtime, see if it is possible to adjust your routine. You can start your evening routine earlier so you can do more stuff and still go to bed on time.
Alternatively, if it is possible to get up later, then you can afford to stay up an hour or so longer.
Plan Your Weekends
If your weekends are packed with fun activities and time for yourself, you will feel less likely to stay up late on weeknights.
So instead of letting the weekend roll by while you spend all your time on the couch, schedule fun things to do. Make sure this includes time with family or friends as well as time on your own.
You might feel lazy about getting out of the house, but you will be glad you did.