Are You a Revenge Bedtime Procrastinator?

Few things rival our mastery of revenge (bedtime procrastination). The concept of “bedtime procrastination” first appeared in a paper published in 2014. The addition of the word “revenge” originated from Chinese social media platforms, where it gained traction for describing a behavior pattern wherein individuals willingly stay up late at night and sacrifice valuable sleep hours as a form of rebellion against days filled with demands and obligations. This seemingly paradoxical behavior has captured the attention of psychologists, sleep researchers, and the general public, sparking discussions about its repercussions.

As societies become increasingly connected and work boundaries blur, the concept of revenge bedtime procrastination has become more prevalent, resonating with individuals who struggle to find balance amidst the demands of modern life. This phenomenon goes beyond mere procrastination; it reflects a deeper struggle to reclaim autonomy over one’s time and prioritize personal relaxation and leisure activities, even at the expense of essential restorative sleep.


Signs of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination


Staying awake into the late hours of the night isn’t always a sign of revenge bedtime procrastination. Researchers argue that sleep procrastination has three defining characteristics:

  • Delaying sleep reduces the amount of time a person sleeps each night.
  • The person is delaying sleep without any apparent cause, such as illness, environmental disturbances, or preparing for a test or presentation at school or work.
  • The person knows that delaying sleep can lead to negative consequences, but they still do it regardless.

The impact of this behavior can vary depending on individuals’ circumstances and the reasons motivating them to stay up late. For the parents of young children, the post-bedtime hours may be their only opportunity to focus on themselves and their wants. Similarly, individuals grappling with demanding work schedules may view late-night TV binge-watching as their one chance for unstructured leisure. Others use these late and early hours to pursue hobbies or energy-intensive activities.However, the majority of people engage in activities that require little effort. Scrolling through social media platforms, watching videos, or online shopping are examples of things people do instead of sleeping.


Causes of Sleep Procrastination

Due to rising living costs, hustle culture, and desires for more material gain, working adults have less free time during the day. This busy lifestyle can lead to bedtime procrastination as they try to find time for themselves, even at the expense of sleep. Additional findings:

  • Revenge bedtime procrastinators have poor self-regulation. Despite their desire to sleep, their actions diverge from their intentions.
  • Bedtime procrastinators tend to procrastinate in various aspects of their lives.
  • Individuals who naturally lean toward being “night owls” may need to force themselves to wake up early or adhere to morning schedules.
  • Bedtime procrastination may stem from a combination of factors, including a person’s natural sleep schedule and their level of self-control.
  • Recent global stressors, such as the 2019 pandemic, have worsened sleep problems in the United States and the world. About 40% of adults reported experiencing heightened sleep disturbances in 2020.

As the so-called work-life balance grows more imbalanced, revenge bedtime procrastination has become a means for people to experience moments of peace, quiet, and solitude.


How Revenge Bedtime Procrastination Affects Our Health

a photo of a stressed man with his hands on his head

Staying up late on occasion, whether to study for an exam, finish a work presentation, or watch a movie, is unlikely to sabotage your sleep schedule or impact your health. Only when sleep procrastination becomes a frequent habit does it harm your well-being. Late nights coupled with early mornings lead to sleep deprivation, obstructing the optimal performance of your mind and body. Sleep deprivation due to revenge bedtime procrastination can lead to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Weakened immunity
  • Increased risk of heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain

Not getting enough sleep not only affects the body physically; it also affects the mind. Research shows that poor-quality sleep can make mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder worse.


How to Stop Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Break the habit. Here are some tips on how to beat revenge bedtime procrastination:

  • Evaluate and adjust your schedule: Review your daily commitments and eliminate non-essential activities (e.g., excessive social media scrolling DURING office/school hours). Prioritize tasks that need completion and bring fulfillment to reduce resentment toward time lost. Also, it helps to clock in and out of commitments on time. For example, starting work too early and doing overtime on a regular basis can lead to burnout, wasted leisure time during the day, revenge bedtime procrastination, and sleep deprivation.
  • Make time for yourself: During lunch breaks or after working hours, try to make time for activities you enjoy. Schedule dedicated “alone time” and, if possible, enlist support from others to manage responsibilities. Start your night routine earlier: Begin winding down an hour before your usual bedtime to ease into relaxation and promote sleepiness.
  • Make sleep a priority: Knowing is no longer enoughtake the importance of quality sleep seriously! There’s nothing like waking up after a full night’s rest; it will give you the energy and alertness to tackle daily tasks more effectively.
  • Develop good sleep habits: To enhance the quality and quantity of your sleep, establish consistent bedtime and wake-up times, design a comfortable sleep environment, create a nighttime routine, and avoid caffeine four to six hours before bed.
  • Start your night routine earlier: Begin winding down an hour before your usual bedtime to ease into relaxation and promote sleepiness.
  • Limit screen time: Avoid using digital devices before bed and opt for calming activities like stretching, meditation, or reading to prepare for sleep.

We need to understand revenge bedtime procrastination not only to unravel the complexities of human behavior but also to address its effects on health, productivity, and overall quality of life. Exploring the origins, contributing factors, consequences, and ways to overcome bedtime procrastination can help us balance work, leisure, and sleep in today’s fast-paced world. And, remember, since this behavior ultimately stems from feeling like we don’t have control over our time, reevaluating how we spend our days is often the initial step toward beating revenge bedtime procrastination. Best of luck!