Are you killing your sleep with Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

An alarm clock showing the time as 2am while a man sits in the background feeling frustrated that he has stayed up so late
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Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is a phenomenon that’s been around for a little while and it refers to when our busy lifestyles don't allow for time doing more relaxing activities, so we try to compensate in the evenings or early mornings by cramming in lots of extra stuff at the expense of our sleep. 

But how do you know if you're killing your sleep with Revenge Bedtime Procrastination? And if you are, is really that big a deal? Here we answer both of those questions, and we’ll also look at how to better manage Revenge Bedtime Procrastination with good sleep hygiene and a proper a bedtime routine. 

We know that staying up and binge-watching Netflix is way more fun than getting some decent shut-eye, but your overall health with thank you for prioritizing your sleep each night. Here's what you need to know...

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

If you lead an extremely busy lifestyle, chances are you won’t have much time for chilling. And with more of us still grafting from home, the boundaries of work and downtime are becoming evermore blurred, and it’s now more common than ever to work longer hours.

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is when a person chooses to stay up late or get up earlier than they should, sacrificing a good portion of their sleep in order to watch TV, play video games, listen to music, scroll social media... you get the idea. This is often done in the early hours or very late at night, when the work emails have stopped, the kids are in bed, and you finally get some time to yourself. 

A woman uses her phone in bed at night

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It will often start as just a few minutes, but before too long you’ll find that hours have zipped by and you're still awake – and not snoozing. Over time this can lead to sleep deprivation, which in itself has countless symptoms ranging from anxiety and weight gain, to an increased risk of depression.

Signs you are a Revenge Bedtime Procrastinator

As mentioned, the signs of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination can often creep up slowly, with five minutes at bedtime here and there soon turning into hours of time spent doing other things when you're meant to be sleeping. 

Here are some signs that you've fallen prey to Revenge Bedtime Procrastination:

  • There is no reason for you not to be in bed – if it’s close to bedtime and you let yet another episode start while lounging on the sofa, this could be a sign you are ‘trying to get your time back’ after a very busy day. If there is no reason not for you to be in bed, then chances are you are procrastinating.
  • Your overall sleep time is reduced – if you are aware these procrastination activities are eating into your recommended seven to nine hours sleep a night, but you choose to ignore it anyway despite feeling exhausted, then you are likely delaying.
  • If you can feel the negative effects of sleep deprivation – if you are feeling increasingly more tired, irritable or unable to concentrate the next day due to lack of sleep, but still continue to procrastinate, then this is another red flag.

How Revenge Bedtime Procrastination affects sleep

It is recommended that adults get around seven to nine hours sleep a night. However, if you are regularly getting less than this because of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, then there are some negative side effects to be aware of – not only for your physical health, but for your mental wellbeing too. 

A sleep deprived woman with red hair yawns deeply while holding a green cup filled with tea

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Some of the instantly noticeable effects of sleep deprivation include:

  • Lack of focus
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Poor memory

If the sleep deprivation is long term, then there is also an increased risk of health issues including diabetes, obesity and a weaker immune system. 

The first way to beat Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is to recognize you are doing it. You can then work on getting a good bedtime routine that will help you not only function better the next day, but also give you space to relax in a way that is more beneficial for your overall health. Read the next section to find out how.

How to manage Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

If you can't stop your Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, it helps to have some simple things to break the cycle and give you the replenishing downtime and great sleep you deserve. Try the following:

Carve out some dedicated “me-time” during the day – This could be b exercising, listening to music or a podcast, reading a book, catching up with a friend, or practising one of your favorite hobbies. Short rewarding activities that easily fit into the day will lessen your need to kickback with less rewarding activities that encroach into your sleep time.

Switch off electronics before bedtime – Switching off all screens around one hour before bed will help your brain to feel less stimulated by the blue light emitted by screens. Research suggests that blue light has a detrimental effect on sleep by suppressing the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Set a bedtime routine – Having an effective relaxation routine in the hour before bed will help prepare you for sleep. Set a reminder to switch off all screens and listen to some calming music as you wind down, whether that's by having a relaxing herbal bath or doing gentle stretches or meditation.

A woman with brown curly hair sleeps with an eye mask on

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Optimize your bedroom for sleep – This includes sleeping on the best mattress for your body, dimming the lights, and setting your bedroom temperature to a sleep-friendly 64.4 degrees fahrenheit. Start your routine at the same time every night as this will trigger the brain to recognize the cues for when it's time to wind down.

For other ways to make your bed cozy and comfy, consider using a good mattress topper for doubling down on comfort, as well as the best pillows for sleeping in your favorite position.

Prioritizing sleep is better than staying up late

The importance of sleep cannot be underestimated and it’s always best to prioritize it, even when you’ve had a seriously stressful day. While it’s natural to want to lounge on the sofa with a glass of wine and watch a few episodes of a boxset, if that means you go to bed late and still have to wake early, the cycle of stress is likely to continue.

Making small changes can help banish Revenge Bedtime Procrastination. A proper night’s sleep will give you more energy to deal with a hectic daytime routine, and hopefully fit in small ways to rest or exercise. Following simple techniques such as those outlined in the 10-3-2-1-0 sleep rule will soon help you on your way to breaking the procrastination cycle.

Ultimately, when it comes to proper relaxation, the rewards of an early night outweigh the time spent stuck in the cycle of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, and, with any luck, those stressful days will become just that little bit easier too.

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Grace Franks

Grace is an experienced sleep writer and mattress reviewer who also contributes to our sister site TechRadar, among other Future plc brands. She's a big fan of organic sleep products and has recently invested in a wool mattress topper that she quite happily describes as "life-changing." (Hey, we're serious about our sleep products). When she isn't testing mattresses or writing about sleep, Grace enjoys reading and creative writing, and incorporates meditation and yoga into her wellness routine.