Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: What It Is and How To Fix It

June 24, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team

Many of us would give anything to get our much-needed beauty sleep after a long and stressful day. However, sometimes the opposite happens and we end up avoiding our bedtime routine for hours on end, putting off sleep. 

Avoiding sleep, or bedtime in general, can also be referred to as “revenge bedtime procrastination.” This most frequently occurs with a high-stress job or when lacking free time throughout the day. Putting off sleep for other leisure activities is one way to feel as though you have control over your day.  

Understanding the ins and outs of revenge bedtime procrastination will help you recognize when you’re doing it, how you can prevent it, and why you should avoid this type of behavior. 

What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Bedtime procrastination comes in different forms. Some people choose to get ready for bed and procrastinate sleep itself, often referred to as “while-in-bed procrastination.” On the other hand, some people prefer “bedtime procrastination” — the act of avoiding getting ready for bed at all.

Revenge bedtime procrastination falls under the latter — you avoid getting ready for bed and instead do other things to keep yourself awake. Here are some of the behaviors associated with bedtime procrastination: 

  • Delay in going to sleep
  • Absence of a valid reason to stay up later than intended
  • Awareness that staying up may lead to negative consequences

If any of these points apply to your situation, you may be guilty of bedtime procrastination. 

Why “Revenge?”

Many of us fall into the trap of staying up late from time to time, but there’s a difference between revenge bedtime procrastination and simply staying up late. Regular bedtime procrastination is staying up late for the fun of it or just to avoid going to bed. 

Revenge bedtime procrastination has a deeper purpose attached. It’s often related to stress and lack of free time earlier in the day, which results in the drive to create free time for yourself. The term “revenge” is added to this type of sleep avoidance as it’s an effort to get revenge on those hours throughout the day where you weren’t able to choose the leisure activities you wanted to do. 

The Psychology Behind Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

While the goal of revenge sleep procrastination is to give yourself time for the things you want to do, it comes with a catch — not getting enough sleep. Many people are willing to sacrifice this to feel control over their time, especially when constantly in a high-stress work environment. 

Research shows that it’s important to have time away from the pressures of work. Not getting that time to relax or detach from various stressors can cause additional stress, reduced well-being, and potential burnout. 

Ciara Kelly, a lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England explains, “One of the most important parts of recovery from work is sleep. However, sleep is affected by how well we detach.” To recover from work stressors, we need to have time to detach — and for those who practice revenge bedtime procrastination, this time usually comes in the hours when you know you should be sleeping. 

Causes of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Aside from everyday stress and working long hours, there are a few other causes of revenge bedtime procrastination. For example, one study found that the more a person has to resist personal desires during their day, the more likely they are to procrastinate. 

Among other things, “doomscrolling,” or scrolling for hours on social media, and endless amounts of Netflix are often tactics used during revenge bedtime procrastination. In the moment, no matter how heavy your eyelids may be, scrolling endlessly through social media feeds and watching just one more episode of that new Netflix series gives you seemingly more reason to avoid sleep. 

How Revenge Bedtime Procrastination Affects Your Health 

Bedtime procrastination in any form can cause various types of health problems and can lead to sleep deprivation. Adults typically need 7–9 hours of sleep every night, while kids and teens need more. Potential symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  • Slower thinking
  • Shorter attention span
  • Faulty decision-making
  • Increased stress or anxiety
  • Worsened memory
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor balance

It’s also possible for consistent sleep deprivation to lead to long-term health implications such as: 

  • Increased risk of heart disease or diabetes
  • Weaker immune system 
  • Hormone-related problems
  • Mental health conditions like anxiety or depression 

When you understand the risks of getting too little sleep, it’s easy to feel motivated to fix the habit. However, sometimes we get stuck not knowing what exactly we can do. Keep reading to find out some specific tips for avoiding bedtime procrastination. 

How To Fix Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Altering bad habits — particularly around sleep — is difficult to do at any age, but not impossible. While there are things you can do on your own, keep in mind that some bad habits may stem from a deeper problem that could require professional help. 

Here at Casper, our goal is to help you sleep better, however, we are not medical professionals. Below are some tips you can use to develop more efficient daily routines, which can help lead to better sleep. If you feel your case is severe or these tips aren’t helping you, it’s best to see a medical professional for advice. 

Focus on Work-Life Balance

With the rise of work-from-home job opportunities has come many great benefits, but also a few disadvantages. While more and more people can work with greater flexibility and freedom at home, the line between home life and work life is quickly being blurred. 

Research shows that roughly 70% of working professionals say they now work on the weekends from time to time, and 45% say they work more hours than they did before transitioning to remote work. Focusing on the balance between work and home life has never been more important. 

To create a better work-life balance, you need to give yourself time to detach from work before going to bed by doing activities you enjoy. This can mean spending time with your family and pets, participating in a hobby, or developing a new skill. 

Be Intentional About Your Rest

Being intentional about your rest means that you have a plan and commitment to carry it out a certain way. You can do this by creating a sleep schedule, a consistent bedtime routine, and improving other sleep hygiene habits. Sticking to your schedule and routine will help you avoid putting off sleep, something that will be easier to do as time goes on and the more consistent you are.

However, be cautious to set realistic expectations for yourself. If you’re naturally a night owl, setting a bedtime at 8 p.m. may not be realistic and you’ll be less likely to follow through. Instead, figure out what will work for you long-term and adjust accordingly.

Schedule Breaks

Much of the time our focus is on getting work done in a quality and timely fashion so we can wrap up our workday. This can mean that taking breaks gets skipped or forgotten altogether. 

To relieve stress levels and set yourself up for a night without procrastinating sleep, schedule breaks into your daily calendar. This will help you learn how to detach and refocus quicker, while also giving you some free time for yourself throughout the day so your normal work stress doesn’t compound later on at night. 

Eat Healthy Late-Night Snacks

Believe it or not, certain foods may help you sleep better — Greek yogurt, for example, has been linked to insomnia relief. Greek yogurt isn’t your only option, though. If you find yourself with a case of the late-night munchies, try other healthy snack options like avocado toast, rice cakes, or eggs. 

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Creating a welcoming environment that elicits sleep will help you avoid bedtime procrastination. You can do this by making sure your room is the best temperature for your needs and by using calming colors and decorations. 

Colors like red, brown, purple, orange, and black can leave you with vivid dreams or cause you to feel stressed and anxious. By using more calming colors like light pink, white, or green, you’ll feel more relaxed in your room and ready to sleep.  

Talk to a Professional

Mental health professionals can help you with a variety of things, including managing stress. They can teach you relaxation techniques, identify specific stressors, or help you figure out ways to have a better work-life balance. 

If you feel overwhelmed the majority of the time and are consistently avoiding sleep to sneak in some personal time, it may be time to seek professional help.  

Avoiding sleep and taking revenge on lost time by “stealing” back a few hours of your day can be tempting. However, there are great disadvantages to doing so — either just once or for an extended time. By being intentional, focusing on work-life balance, and creating a comfortable sleep environment with relaxing colors and a cozy mattress, you can avoid revenge bedtime procrastination and get the sleep and stress relief your body needs.