You’ve had a day. Between the kids’ school being closed again (thanks, covid) and rushing to the vet after your dog swallowed that loose Tylenol on the floor, you could hardly juggle your remote job, let alone send off that package of Amazon returns that’s been languishing in your car for a couple weeks. But around 11 p.m., the house gets quiet. The dog is safe and snoring. And the emails stop rolling in. Why not indulge in a little Real Housewives…until 3 a.m.? Sound familiar? Then you might be guilty of a little thing known as “revenge bedtime procrastination.”
What is “revenge bedtime procrastination”?
According to Sleepfoundation.org, revenge bedtime procrastination “describes the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time.” So, anytime you’re purposefully up in the wee small hours of the morning scrolling the annals of an obscure Wikipedia page, baking banana bread, re-organizing the bookshelf or simply doing anything to indulge in some free time while forfeiting precious sleep time, you’re committing revenge bedtime procrastination.
Who’s guilty of it?
Anyone! Overworked teenagers, busy parents, stressed out caretakers—you name it. In fact, the phenomenon is so common, it’s actually become a trending TikTok topic. But apparently, according to a 2019 study out of Poland, both students and women scored higher on the bedtime procrastination scale. And considering the impact of the pandemic on daily lives, we wouldn’t be surprised if demographics that have been forced into tight corners the past year-plus—teachers, healthcare and essential workers, caregivers, etc.—are experiencing revenge bedtime procrastination at higher rates.
So, why is this bad? Isn’t self-care important?
Self-care can mean a lot of things—maybe it’s investing in clean beauty, taking a day off of work to get your life together or finding a therapist. But no matter which way you slice it, unless you’re a far more evolved lifeform (or Beyonce), you need sleep. And you need good, consistent sleep. That’s why “sleep-care” has essentially been dubbed the new self-care—to indulge in any of those self-care rituals, you must be rested. A sleep study conducted by the University of Turku in Finland in 2007 found that sleep-deprived people aren’t just sleepy, but they experience functional problems like reduced reaction time, a more limited ability to pay attention, difficulty with both short- and long-term memory, trouble with logical reasoning and critical thinking and were not able to switch between tasks as easily. Staying up late one night? You’ll probably have a bad day. But a pattern can lead to chronic issues noted above.
How do you curb bedtime procrastination?
The thing about revenge bedtime procrastination is that it’s a choice. You’re not staying up late because of an illness or other circumstances. You just want some me-time. So here’s how to make sure you get the me-time.
1. Think about sleep as “me-time.” Play some Jedi mind tricks on your brain and let yourself think that sleep is leisure time. After all, considering all the studies and research, it is! So indulge in some me-time sleep.
2. Create a sleep routine: It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be something you can repeat and make a habit of so that when it comes time for sleep, your body (and mind) know what to do: sleep. Maybe it’s making a cup of tea at 10 p.m. on the dot, getting your nine favorite bedtime stretches in or following some tried-and-true sleep tricks like slipping on a warm pair of socks or visualizing your childhood home.
3. Take meaningful, short breaks for yourself during the day. We get it—you have no time these days. But if you can enforce ten-, even five-minute breaks every day at the same time for you to do what you want—scroll Instagram, meditate or call your best friend—you’ll feel a little less inclined to sabotage your sleep at 4 a.m.