Why You Sabotage Your Own Sleep
The plight called “revenge bedtime procrastination”
You’ve scrolled for hours; taking full advantage of the endless scroll feature most social media apps offer these days. You’ve consumed so much content that neon lights still flash behind your eyes when you close them.
Your neck hurts from straining to look at your phone. Your finger is cramping and your whole body aches in desperation for sleep. The sunlight seeps in through the curtains.
You’ve done it again. You sabotaged your sleep.
What is revenge bedtime procrastination? Where did the term come from?
Revenge bedtime procrastination is essentially when one sacrifices time meant for sleep in order to feel a sense of control over time. This usually happens in a scenario when a person feels they have little to no control over their time during the day so they attempt to reign in control during the night; for leisure or simply time for themselves.
Revenge bedtime procrastination is seen in many individuals; from mothers using the nighttime as the only time they have to themselves, to those with long work hours during the day.
One study has found that students and women are the most common sufferers of this phenomenon.
It’s tempting to use the night as an opportunity to get more work done or spend time for yourself. During the day, there are constant deadlines and the bustling business that come with our responsibilities. But, the night is an untouched time; a time that we see as conquerable. To “get it all done”.
We see sleep as something we are able to sacrifice; because we can’t sacrifice time during the day.
Revenge bedtime procrastination is a relatively new concept; its term gaining popularity on social media during recent months; most likely due to the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic where people have experienced this phenomenon more.
Janelle Watson, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Embrace Wellness, says “the subconscious psychological goal of revenge bedtime procrastination is to take back control over your time. Bedtime and sleep procrastination tends to include activities that provide immediate enjoyment, such as watching Netflix, reading, talking to friends, or surfing the Internet.”
So, it’s different from staying up late to meet a deadline or to get some extra work done.
What are the consequences of revenge bedtime procrastination?
Perhaps an obvious and immediate consequence of revenge bedtime procrastination is sleep deprivation.
Among of myriad of problems sleep deprivation causes, it can lead to:
1. memory problems
2. decline in critical thinking skills
Sleep deprivation often leads to daytime sleepiness and a need for a mid-day nap; resulting in reduced productivity which can eventually increase the chances of revenge bedtime procrastination; creating a cycle.
How can we stop revenge bedtime procrastination? Is it preventable?
We can and must take steps to prevent the plight that has taken over our lives.
Because revenge bedtime procrastination stems from a feeling of lack of control or a genuine lack of control over the daytime hours, one way to handle this problem is by stopping it at its root.
In other words, we must take back control of our daytime.
We need to make time for ourselves during the day. This includes taking time to incorporate self-care and doing things that make you happy. This will also help with burnout.
Also, we must realize how essential sleep is and fight off the urge to sacrifice it.
The temptation to stare at our phone screens and binge-watch our favorite shows is tempting when our phones are right beside us as we lay in bed. So, consider putting your phone away from your bed at night.
Another thing worth trying is setting a bedtime routine you look forward to; something to get you excited to sleep. This can include things like
1. drinking a relaxing tea before bed
2. taking a bath
4. putting on an oil diffuser
5. stop using electronic devices an hour before bed
When to seek help
Revenge bedtime procrastination can be a debilitating condition, causing mental health issues as well as sleep deprivation.
That being said, it is preventable. However, if it is not being fixed and causing significant distress, it may be a good idea to seek help from a therapist or a medical professional.
Revenge bedtime procrastination will wreak havoc on our lives. But, there are ways to put it to sleep. (Pun intended!)