What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?
Awareness Self Help

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?


Have you ever found yourself staying up till very late in the night after an especially hectic day, mindlessly scrolling on your phone or doing other activities, despite knowing that you must be up early for school or work? If you are in the habit of doing this, it could be a sign of revenge for bedtime procrastination. Also known as sleep procrastination, this phenomenon refers to the decision to sacrifice sleep and get your ‘me’ time and engage in leisure activities that you couldn’t do in the daytime because of your busy schedule. It is a way for people to find time for entertainment and relaxation at the expense of sleep.

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Although the term bedtime procrastination is not new to researchers, the entire phrase ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ was first used and became popular on social media in 2014, to describe how certain Chinese people working 12-hour shifts would stay up as revenge, trying to get some entertainment which they couldn’t at any other time in the day. This was the only way they could gain some sense of control over their time. The first use was in a viral tweet by journalist Daphne K. Lee, who described it to mean what happens when “people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.”

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How to Recognise Revenge Bedtime Procrastination:

Staying up past a reasonable bedtime does not always indicate revenge bedtime procrastination. Researchers have outlined three key features of this habit, which are described below:

  • The delay in sleeping at night must reduce your overall sleep time. A sleep schedule that involves staying up late in the night but catching up on sleep in the morning or the next afternoon is not a sign of revenge for bedtime procrastination.
  • This delay must not be caused by any other underlying reason. For example, if your area is undergoing construction work and you are unable to sleep until very late, or if you have an illness that is causing insomnia, it does not count as revenge bedtime procrastination.
  • People who engage in this habit must be fully aware of its negative consequences but continue doing it anyway out of compulsion.

Read More: Insomnia: Symptoms, Types and Prevention

What Causes Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Researchers have advanced a few theories as to why people give in to this habit, despite being aware of its negative results. It could be that you are a night owl living in a world that requires you to be an early bird. It may also be because you are looking for activities that help you relieve stress after a long, exhausting day. Maybe, you have a general tendency to procrastinate on things, which is reflected in your sleep schedule as well. It can be observed in other contexts too, such as putting off doing the dishes or your laundry or starting assignments at the last moment.

Read More: General Adaptation Syndrome: How Your Body Responds to Stress

For people with high-stress jobs which take up most of their day, college students with a huge number of assignments and exams and a pile of books to read, and even school students caught up in many activities, revenge bedtime procrastination is extremely tempting. However, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Consistently having a routine of late nights followed by early mornings can lead to serious sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep can have significant detrimental effects on physical, mental, and emotional health, with both short and long-term consequences.

Bedtime procrastination can take two different forms – One involves avoiding the act of getting into bed, and the other involves delaying going to sleep even when you are already in bed. The latter is a problem related to the increased use of mobile phones and other electronic devices in bed. Sleep is curtailed in favour of activities that offer immediate enjoyment or relaxation such as scrolling through social media, online shopping, watching streaming services, and reading.

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The Dangers of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Occasionally staying up past your bedtime is unlikely to cause any major problems, however, a long-drawn pattern of this act can impact your overall well-being. Sleep deprivation due to lack of adequate sleep affects your ability to function the next day. You’ll not be able to engage in daytime activities at 100% capacity. In more external terms, it can cause your performance and productivity to deteriorate at work or make your grades go down at school. It can lead to daytime sleepiness, which heightens the risk of drowsy driving. Less sleep also affects mood regulation, you might feel perpetually exhausted, cranky, and irritable. Your whole outlook can become negative, which may start affecting your social skills and cause problems in your relationships.

In terms of mental and physical health, sleep deprivation can potentially lead to anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, deterioration of memory and other cognitive abilities such as thinking and decision-making, and constant headaches. Weight gain might also follow. It can even weaken your immunity and put you at an increased risk of cardiac problems.

How to break the habit of Revenge bedtime procrastination

The best remedy for the habit of sleep time procrastination is to maintain healthy sleep hygiene, which not only includes a good sleep schedule but also makes your environment conducive to comfortable sleep. The following tips can help you break the adamant habit of bedtime procrastination:

  • Maintain a routine in your life activities. It can help prevent procrastination in other activities as well, causing your daytime schedule to look less hectic as well. Having a routine can make going to bed seem like an automatic response after a while, preventing the impulse to stay up late at night.
  • Avoid consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and energy drinks after the evening.
  • Put away electronic devices at least half an hour before your bedtime. Instead, try to inculcate healthier sleep habits, such as meditating, stretching, reading a book, or listening to calm music before bed.
  • Keep up with your sleep routine even on non-working days and weekends. resist the urge to sleep till late in the morning on holidays to avoid slipping into a bad schedule.

You must remember that it takes more than just one night of full sleep to recover from the negative consequences of long-term bedtime procrastination. Only consistent efforts will be fruitful in getting your life back on track.

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References +
  • https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/revenge-bedtime-procrastinatio
  • https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-revenge-bedtime-procrastination-5189591#citation-2
  • https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/revenge-bedtime-procrastination

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