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What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Wellbeing Work-life Balance

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

It’s late at night and you’re exhausted, yet you find yourself endlessly scrolling on your phone or doing some leisure activities and putting off sleep? If so, you might be experiencing what’s known as Revenge Bedtime Procrastination (RBP), a seemingly paradoxical behavior that often stems from a lack of leisure time during the day and leading to the desire to reclaim that time at night.

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination refers to the behavior of staying up late at night, even though you know you should be going to bed and receive enough sleep instead, as a way of finding some time for yourself or to engage in activities that you don’t have time for during the day.

The psychology behind revenge bedtime procrastination

The term “revenge” hints at the underlying motivation, and often the most common cause, behind this behavior. It’s the rebellion against the constraints of a busy schedule and a general lack of free time during the day. By staying up late, individuals feel like they’re taking back control of their time and their lives, even if it’s just for a few hours and at the expense of sleep and well-being.

While the general lack of leisure or free time during the day is the common cause, other factors may also play a role, such as a person’s natural sleep schedule, their level or ability to self-control, and also how much a person is prone to procrastination in general.

The ubiquity of technology, with its endless array of entertainment options and possibilities always on and at our fingertips, making it all too easy to lose track of time also plays a role. Furthermore, also the social pressure to be constantly productive and that can lead individuals to prioritize work over rest, has its influence.

Signs of revenge bedtime procrastination

Staying up late at night isn’t necessarily a sign of revenge bedtime procrastination. The line is often drawn where the behaviour of delaying going to sleep is conscious, especially of the negative consequences, it effectively results in less sleep time and it is not due to any other reason other than the enjoyment of me-time or freetime.

Signs associated with revenge bedtime procrastination can vary from person to person, but common behaviors include:

  • mindlessly scrolling through social media at night
  • binge-watching TV shows or videos late at night
  • engaging in hobbies, often that don’t require a great deal of effort, long after bedtime
  • any activity that postpone bedtime without any real purpose other than the enjoyment of leisure time.

Who is most affected by revenge bedtime procrastination

While revenge bedtime procrastination can affect anyone and it can change with the varying of one’s schedule, priorities or even stress levels, it’s particularly prevalent among individuals who feel overwhelmed by their daily responsibilities and crave a sense of control or autonomy. This often includes working professionals, parents, caregivers, and students who struggle to find balance between obligations and personal desires.

People who prefer to be active in the evening and stay up late, or people who procrastinate in other aspects of their life, are also prone to revenge bedtime procrastination.

Consequences of revenge bedtime procrastination

The consequences of revenge bedtime procrastination can extend well beyond the simple sleep deprivation and the feeling groggy and drowsy the next day.

While staying up late occasionally isn’t likely to have any major impact on your health or overall well-being, revenge bedtime procrastination is problematic when it becomes a regular habit and can start affecting your physical and mental health.
In fact, chronic sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function, worsen memory, cause difficulty concentrating, can lead to a weakening of the immune system, and increase the risk of developing other health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Moreover, it can take a toll on mental health, contributing to developing anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Tips to prevent and minimize revenge bedtime procrastination

Set a bedtime routine

Establish a consistent bedtime and wake-up routine with consistent times, so as to regulate your body’s internal clock. You can also set up an alarm to remind you to prepare for sleeping and give you some extra time to prepare and wind down from the day.

Limit screen time before bed

Avoid using electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime to reduce exposure to blue light, which can disrupt your sleep, stop scrolling through social media sites or, best of all, avoid bringing or using your phone at all while lying in bed so to mentally prepare it’s time for sleeping. Drawing a line between leisure and sleeping area, and leaving your phone far from the bed, will also avoid any temptation to keep scrolling, playing or checking your phone.

Prioritize sleep hygiene

Adopt healthy sleep habits such as avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals in the evening and before bedtime, and create a relaxing environment by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. You can also incorporate relaxing exercises such as deep breathing or meditation so as to unwind before sleep.

Set boundaries

Learn to take time for yourself and to say no to additional commitments that invade or reduce your personal time. Also, prioritize activities that energize and fulfill you.

Plan leisure activities earlier in the day

Schedule time for leisure, entertainment, and hobbies earlier in the evening to avoid the temptation of staying up late to indulge in them. In general, try to incorporate more activities and fun throughout your day to minimize the urge for revenge procrastination later on.

If you find that revenge bedtime procrastination persists despite your best efforts, it’s always best to consider seeking guidance from an expert.

Avatar photo Written by Stefano Merlo

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