Sleep Procrastination

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?  

If you stay up late and sacrifice sleep to get some “me” time at the end of a busy day, you may be practicing “revenge bedtime procrastination” or “sleep procrastination.”

What causes revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is often related to stress or a lack of free time in your schedule. Perhaps you’re a caregiver, have a high-stress job or have many professional or social obligations. If you feel like you don’t have any time for yourself during the day, you may be tempted to stay up late to enjoy leisure activities, like scrolling on social media, watching TV, playing video games or hanging out with friends and family. Sleep procrastination includes:

  • Delaying going to bed
  • Getting in bed and delaying going to sleep, often by using an electronic device

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in sleep procrastination because of the related stress, caregiving demands and lack of boundaries while working from home.

What are the signs of revenge bedtime procrastination?

The most common signs are:

  • A delay in bedtime that decreases your overall sleep
  • An awareness that staying up too late can have negative consequences
  • Lack of a good reason to stay up late

How sleep procrastination can affect your health

When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re at increased risk of sleep deprivation. Decreasing sleep to make time for leisure activities can seriously impact your mental, emotional and physical health. Sleep deprivation can:

  • Cause problems with memory, thinking and decision-making
  • Increase your risk of depression and anxiety
  • Increase your risk of drowsy driving
  • Decrease productivity
  • Make you more prone to cardiovascular conditions and metabolic disorders like diabetes
  • Decrease your immune function and the effectiveness of vaccines

How to stop revenge bedtime procrastination

Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing stress and maintaining good overall health. Here are some tips to stop revenge bedtime procrastination:

Turn off electronic devices. Stop using your phone, TV, computer or tablet at least 30 minutes (or more) before bedtime.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on your days off.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon or evening can disrupt your sleep quality.

Create a bedtime routine. A calming routine signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down for the night. Your routine could include meditation, journaling, stretching, washing your face, taking a bath or shower, or reading.

Make your bedroom sleep-friendly. Install shades or blackout curtains, use a white noise app or machine, set your room to a cool temperature, and buy a comfortable mattress and bedding if possible.

When to see a health care provider

If you have significant stress in your life, it can be helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist. They can help you set boundaries, manage stress and find time for activities you enjoy.

If you continuously struggle to get enough sleep or often feel tired, talk to your primary care provider. Find a provider near you

Gary Rodberg

Gary Rodberg, MD

Board-Certified Sleep Medicine Physician
Carolina Lung and Sleep at Pardee
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