How To Combat Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

If there’s anything that’s been drilled into our brains it’s this:  sleep is important. 
We know the risks of ignoring this. Poor moods, fatigue, headaches, low energy and tired-looking skin. And yet, time and time again we find ourselves sat up in bed, deep in the trenches of a TikTok subculture and adding things we can’t afford to various online shopping carts, watching as the clock ticks over to the next day.
Bedtime procrastination is not a new concept. Long have we gone to bed later than we intended, even though no external factors are actually getting in the way of us hitting the hay. But in recent years, as working from home and lockdowns have seen burnout become more rife than ever before, a new phenomenon has emerged that has seen us develop an unhealthy propensity for delaying sleep: revenge bedtime procrastination.

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is where a person intentionally puts off going to sleep in a bid to reclaim some of their free time.
The problem goes far deeper than wanting to watch just one more episode. A 2018 study showed that the less enjoyable a person found their day to be, the more likely they were to report a later sleep in favour of leisure. It usually stems from an underlying feeling that work or other obligations have stolen your day, and so you essentially try to take back the night by staying awake to feel like you’re in control of your time. 
While regaining some sense of freedom in the late hours sounds harmless, it's not the loophole we may think it is. Sure, by not restricting ourselves to the recommended hours of sleep frees up some time, but we're not outsmarting the clock; we're just putting extra strain on our bodies.
The impacts aren’t obvious, and we convince ourselves that the instant gratification of a late-night binge or scroll is an equal payoff. And that can be the case if we’re just indulging in this kind of procrastination once a month or so, but most of us are guilty of doing this far too often. 
Sleep deficits are hard to identify. Our bodies are geared to simply getting on with the day, and because we naturally adapt, we may kid ourselves into thinking we can simply catch up on those ZZZs later. Well, we hate to break it to you, but sleep isn’t something we can ‘catch up’ on. And once we starting losing significant amounts, the impacts can be pretty dire.
According to The Sleep Foundation, sleeping less than seven hours per night on a regular basis increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Sleep deprivation is also linked to reduced immune function, metabolic dysregulation and weight gain, and a greater risk of falls and accidents. Prolonged sleep deprivation also affects memory and cognitive functions.
Though you likely don’t need to be told (again) that putting off sleep is unhealthy, if you’re concerned that your motives may be revenge-led, read on for some of the ways we can combat our sleep procrastination habits.

Make time for leisure

We only have 24 hours to play with, so if you're not keen on cutting down your leisure time, it's all about making space for it elsewhere. If your work typically starts after 8:30 am, then the morning hours before you clock on are full of potential. Even if you’re not a morning person, no one ever regrets getting up early, anyway. 

Do nothing

If you’ve spent your weekend cleaning the house, running errands and shopping for birthday presents, chances are you’re not reaping the benefits of the work break since you didn’t really have a break. Try to dedicate a chunk of your free time to mindlessly scrolling through your phone or lying on the couch with a cup of tea. 

Schedule 'fun' into your day

It sounds obvious but putting in the effort to plan something fun for the day, sets you up to be less disappointed by other factors that may get you down. Organise a walk with a friend, allocate specific days where you eat your lunch in the park, or even take up an ongoing creative project that you can chip away at — it’s all about the little things that make your day that much better.

Wind down (actually)

You don’t need to reach Gwyneth Paltrow levels of wellness, but we do benefit both mentally and physically from sticking to a nighttime routine.
The best way to approach this is to stick to a pre-bed routine, which should technically start in the morning. Start by making your bed in the morning and clearing your room as much as you can so that it’s an uncluttered space. Try not to get into bed throughout the day (as tempting as it is when working from home) so that your brain doesn’t get confused and stops associating your bed with the cue to shut off. 
When the evening rolls around, make sure you switch your phone to night mode — where the yellow light is less straining on your eyes — and having a warm shower or bath before bed to relax. Listening to calming podcasts can prove helpful to those that struggle to fall asleep. 
And if you’re someone that likes to journal in the evenings, try to fit it in earlier. The release of emotions and reflection are brilliant, but can be too stimulating right before bed.

More from Wellness