Revenge bedtime or sleep procrastination are new terms that describe an old problem. It could be watching an interesting TV show late at night, like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle. Or playing your favourite video game. Or preparing for tomorrow’s meeting. Whatever the reason, if you are compromising on the time when you should be asleep, you are indulging in bedtime procrastination.
Understanding more about how to tackle revenge bedtime procrastination can make for better sleep. Read on.
What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination and Why Does it Occur?
Bedtime procrastination saw increased attention with the altered schedules that became common during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, as many as 40% of Americans experienced sleeping difficulties.
While the concept gained prominence during the pandemic, it has been a known problem for longer. It is said to be a by-product of our increasingly busy lives.
The term ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ has its roots in the idea that people are taking revenge for the lost daylight hours by giving themselves more time at night.
The way revenge sleep procrastination manifests itself differs from person to person. If you have a structured day with no breaks for relaxation, you might spend time catching up on social media. If you’re a parent who spends your day taking care of kids, you might spend time with your partner. Parents often say that this is their ‘me time.’
However, the common outcome is depriving yourself of sleep and feeling increasingly tired the following morning.
While people can procrastinate by spending time on anything, electronic gadgets, in particular, are known to be major culprits behind bedtime procrastination. These devices make life easier but often impact how much or how well we sleep.
Tips to Fix Revenge Bedtime Procrastination
Korean researchers recently addressed revenge bedtime procrastination in a study. This research used behaviour modification for subjects to correct their sleep habits. Fewer subjects had issues with daytime sleepiness and insomnia, and 60% stopped procrastinating as much.
Here are some tips that can help you overcome bedtime procrastination:
Tip #1: Set Realistic Goals
A common goal that many set is going to bed earlier to be more active in the morning. However, people usually up after midnight may struggle to retire at an earlier hour. Instead, try to gradually move your bedtime back to an earlier hour in 15 or 30-minute increments.
Tip #2: Put Break Times on Your Calendar
Adding break time to your calendar helps ensure that proper rest remains a priority. Many people, unfortunately, underestimate the value of self-care, which has a direct impact on our overall health. These designated breaks, or even unplanned moments, can provide you with the necessary time to unwind and relax.
Tip #3: Include Time for Important People
Incorporating time to care for those who matter the most can play an essential role in combating revenge sleep procrastination. Take a few minutes to chat with a friend or help a loved one with a task.
Tip #4: Ditch the Devices
If you are going to stay up late, try to do something that does not involve an electronic screen. The blue light from our phones, computers and even TV, is a cue to your circadian rhythm that it is time to be awake. If you are reading a book, chatting to a loved one or crafting for example, you will find it easier to get to sleep once you finally go to bed. People who use screens late at night report difficulties in getting to sleep and staying asleep.
When Does Revenge Bedtime Procrastination Require Extra Help
Ironically, people going through revenge sleep procrastination want to get rest, despite the hours they stay awake. Mental health professionals describe this disconnect between desire and behavior as the intention-behavior gap.
Although the connection is uncertain, people who struggle with revenge bedtime procrastination often have issues with procrastination in general. These individuals also tend to struggle with self-regulation.
One thing that can help with uncovering the cause of your procrastination is what you don’t want to face in the morning. Examples of things people often try to avoid with revenge sleep procrastination include:
Returning difficult phone calls
Sending an email you’d rather avoid
Paying a bill at an inconvenient time
A therapist might be helpful, regardless of whether you live with known mental health issues. If you find getting a handle on your revenge sleep procrastination difficult, you might benefit from working with a therapist.
Revenge bedtime procrastination affects many people. There is nothing wrong, in and of itself, with having the occasional late night. However, in the long run, procrastinating at bedtime can be detrimental to your overall sleep health.
Implementing smaller, more manageable changes will assist you in overcoming procrastination and gaining fuller control over your life.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your sleep health or any other medical condition.
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