Do You Engage in “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?”

by | Jul 13, 2021


After a long day of work and parenting do you stay up later than needed scrolling through social media, flipping through TV channels, or reading a book? If so, you aren’t alone — it’s a common enough behavior that there’s a name for it: Revenge Bedtime Procrastination.

According to The Sleep Foundation, “Revenge bedtime procrastination describes the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time. For people in high-stress jobs that take up the bulk of their day, revenge bedtime procrastination is a way to find a few hours of entertainment even though it results in insufficient sleep.” So, after a busy and high-stress day, bedtime procrastinators trade sleep for “me time.” The pandemic appears to have made revenge bedtime procrastination worse due to all the stresses we’ve experienced over the last 18 months and the blurring of lines between home and work.

Experts say revenge bedtime procrastination is not the same as just staying up late; rather it has these three elements:

1. This procrastination behavior requires a delay (“going to bed later than intended”),

2. the absence of a valid reason that could explain the delay (e.g., being sick) and, finally,

3. Knowing that their actions will result in negative consequences (e.g., not getting enough sleep)

Sleep procrastination is a problem because getting enough sleep is essential. According to the NY Times,

Chronically bad sleep is more than just a nuisance. It weakens the immune system, reduces memory and attention span, and increases the likelihood of chronic conditions like depression, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The shorter your sleep, studies suggest, the shorter your life span. And for people over 50, sleeping less than six hours a night may even heighten the risk of dementia.

Tips to avoid engaging in revenge bedtime procrastination include:

  • The root cause of bedtime procrastination is being busy and stressed. So, carve out time for yourself during the day.
  • Consider a meditation or breathing practice to help manage stress.
  • Set a bedtime alarm. This is the opposite of an alarm to wake up — it’s an alarm singalling that you are going to stop procrastinating and go to bed.

1 Comment

  1. I have never heard of this until recently when I was talking to my best friend about my sleeping habits and how I do not get enough sleep and am so tired all the time. She told me about the concept so i had to research it. Thank you for the great information. Oddly enough when I was researching about this and came across another great read, which had some really great tips. What are your thoughts? I really need to learn to have me time not to late at night, but it is rough with small kids who need me all day long until they go to sleep.


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