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‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’ Might Be The Reason You Keep Staying Up Late

‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’ Might Be The Reason You Keep Staying Up Late
Image by Diana Grytsku / Freepik

Do you find yourself staying up late at night for no reason, just scrolling through your phone, mindlessly checking Twitter and Instagram for hours, and refuse to fall asleep? There’s a name for this behavior, and it’s called “revenge bedtime procrastination.”

Also known as ‘sleep procrastination,’ revenge bedtime procrastination is a psychological phenomenon where you deliberately stay up late instead of sleeping at a reasonable hour so you could get some “me” time. 

“It means you get ‘revenge’ for your busy daytime schedule by fitting in leisure time at the expense of shut-eye,” says this article.

You might already be sleep procrastinating without realizing it, which means that further understanding about this phenomenon is needed.

What causes this behavior?

This concept was first mentioned in a study by Dr. Floor Kroese, a behavioral scientist from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He described the behavior as “going to bed later than intended while no external circumstances are accountable for doing so.”

A 2020 research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health points to adolescents as the most obvious bedtime procrastinators, putting off sleep to watch YouTube videos, visit social media platforms, and the like.

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However, adults are guilty of it, too. In fact, 27-year-old Michelle has been a bedtime procrastinator without even knowing it.

“I only read about it in an article I saw on Facebook. The caption said that the reason I was sleeping late is probably because I don’t have control over my daytime schedule,” shares Michelle, “which was true! I work from 10 AM to 7 PM, then I have to cook, clean the house, do laundry.”

Michelle found herself going to sleep between 2 AM and 4 AM on a daily basis, spending hours on Netflix, YouTube, and Instagram. She says, “The nighttime is the only time I’m free to do whatever I want. I’m not expected to work, answer emails, nobody needs me. It’s the only time I can ‘relax.’”

College students experience this phenomenon, too. Denise, 19, barely gets any free time in between online classes and endless projects, so she sacrifices her sleep hours to compensate.

“Every day, I wake up at 7AM for my first class and this continues until my last class at 5:30 PM. Since we’re on remote learning, we get bombarded with a lot of homework and projects, so I try to finish them after my last class.”

Denise finishes everything at around 9 PM, but she stays up until 2 AM for some “me” time.

“It’s not healthy, but it’s the only thing keeping me sane,” she says. “Ang feeling ko, parang nawala na ‘yung buong araw ko, wala akong time gawin ‘yung mga gusto ko talaga. Ito lang yung chance ko to catch up with the outside world and do things that I actually want to do.”

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Why we should watch out for sleep procrastination

Bedtime procrastinating means that you’re cutting back on sleep, which can degrade thinking, memory, and decision-making. Insufficient sleep can also reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and worsen our overall physical and mental health.

In an interview with Medical News Today, environmental psychologist and well-being consultant Lee Chambers said that this behavior is often found in millennials and Gen Zers.

“In my professional experience, this [behavior] presents most often in late Millennials and Gen Z’s in high-pressure positions with ambitious goals and career objectives. Their behaviors are, in a way, a rebellion against the organizational cultures they are trying to navigate, and they are often aware of just how pivotal sleep is to health and performance.”

When you look at the bigger picture, there is a need to revamp an entire capitalist system that expects us to function more than 12 hours a day. If major corporations learn how to respect their employees’ work-life boundaries and give them enough time for rest, we can better function as a society without 90% of us running on caffeine.

However, we can help ourselves too.

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We can do something about it

To help us manage our body clocks, it is suggested that we keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine at least 5 hours before bedtime helps us sleep better as well.

If you’re a late-night Internet lurker, this is your reminder to set a limit to your phone use, as blue light emitted by your gadgets suppresses our body’s release of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel drowsy.

Before the day ends, treat yourself to a relaxing shower. Meditate, free your mind of worries, and allow yourself to rest. You deserve it.

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