Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Posted by Darian Dozier on Mar 20, 2022 6:16:00 AM

Add a heading-Oct-31-2021-02-13-48-81-PM

Do you find yourself staying up way past your bedtime because you feel like that's the only time you can do what you want to do? Whether it's reading that one book or finishing a TV show, you have the option to go to bed, but decide to stay up doing these activities. What does this lead to? Trouble getting up in the morning, a groggy day, just to do it all again the next night. This is referred to as Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, and we're going to talk more about it, as well as its effects on your sleep and how you can avoid doing this in the future. 

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is defined as the decision to forgo sleep for leisure time that is limited due to a busy daytime schedule.  If you have a busy job and then come home to a busy family, then you may feel like late at night is the only time for you. However, this is also the time that you should probably be going to sleep in order to get your recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night. 

If you're unsure if you just enjoy late night television or if you do revenge bedtime procrastination, here are a few behaviors associated with it: 

  • Delaying sleep so your total sleep time is reduced 
  • Having no other valid reason for staying up so late (like an external event or illness) 
  • Knowing that delaying your bedtime could lead to serious consequences and doing it anyways

Bedtime procrastination is also reflective of procrastination in other parts of your life. So maybe you avoid doing work or chores, and this pushes into your leisure time so now you have to procrastinate going to bed so you can enjoy some of your favorite activities.

There are two different types of sleep procrastination. One is delaying the act of going to bed and the other is delaying the act of going to sleep while laying in bed (associated with higher rates of electronic use in the bed). Both lead to sleep deprivation and a reduction in the number of hours of sleep. 

What is the psychology behind it?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a relatively new concept that was highlighted by the frustrations of the pandemic and how hectic of a schedule that was. However, there are have been some developments in studying why people procrastinate going to sleep in exchange for personal enjoyment. 

People who revenge sleep generally want to receive enough sleep, but they fail to do so. This is intention-behavior gap, possibly due to a failure in self-regulation or self-control. Our capacity for self-control is pretty low at the end of a long day which may help to facilitate sleep procrastination. Some people may be naturally inclined to procrastinate in general, but the daytime demands of work, school, and family can reduce the ability to exercise self-control in the evening. 

However, everyone does not agree with the position that problem has to do with self-control. Instead, some experts think the problem is that some people are naturally night owls who are forced to adapt to the schedule of early birds. In revenge bedtime procrastination, sacrificing sleep my not be a failure of self-control but an attempt to find recovery time in response to stress. There is still a lot of research that has to be done, but this early work sheds light on various theories regarding why people avoid going to bed for personal leisure time. 

Who is most affected by Bedtime procrastination?

Again, there is so much more research that needs to be done to find out who is most affected by bedtime procrastination. Studies suggest women and students as they normally have the more demanding schedules during the day. Also individuals with an evening chronotype "night owls" may also be at risk for practicing bedtime procrastination. 

Another group of individuals who are most affected are those who procrastinate in other aspects of their life. It is also tied to significant daytime stress, so it's more of a response to extended work hours that leave no time for entertainment or relaxation. 

Extended working hours have become even more of a problem with Covid-19 and everyone having more flexible working hours. Women, in particular, have had a severe reduction in leisure time, possibly due to the number of roles they had to take on with the entire family working from home. These factors may trigger stress and sleep procrastination. 

What are the consequences of bedtime procrastination?

Bedtime procrastination can cause sleep deprivation, especially when done the night before an early morning. It's one thing to delay going to bed because you can sleep in the next morning. However, if you have an early schedule and you still procrastinate, then you are at risk for extended sleep deprivation. 

Without enough hours of sleep, the brain and body cannot recharge from the stressors of the day. This can have widespread negative effects on health. Insufficient sleep degrades thinking, memory, and decision-making. Sleep deprivation can also increase the amount of daytime sleepiness that you can feel which can further perpetuate your procrastination. 

Sleep deprivation also has physical consequences. People are more susceptible to cardiovascular problems and metabolic disorders like diabetes. In addition, insufficient sleep can also have negative effects on your immune system which is problematic in peak flu season and on the heels of Covid-19. 

How you can stop sleep procrastination

The best way to avoid sleep procrastination is to develop healthy sleep hygiene, or a good sleep routine. This is the same routine you do every night to train your brain and body for bed. If you want to read a book or watch a show, or any other leisurely activity, then work that into your routine. Having a regulated amount of time to do activities that you enjoy can give you that space to relax without it infringing on your sleep. 

Another way to keep a good sleep schedule is to keep a consistent bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends and holidays. This can help with self-regulation if that is the reason that you struggle to go to bed. Also, reduce the usage of electronics in the bed. They can be a distraction that can keep you from going to bed at a reasonable time. Reading a book, doing a crossword, knitting, anything that is a relaxing activity that doesn't expose you to the blue light of electronics can help your brain properly prepare for bed. 

If you continue to have issues, then please click the orange button below to talk with a sleep professional. 

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