Are You Guilty Of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

We all could use more sleep.

It is a fact universally known that having sufficient shuteye is integral to our overall well-being. Not only can getting enough sleep keep you healthy (not to mention less cranky), but it also helps in maintaining brain plasticity, which is key to forming memories and learning new things. Adequate sleep is also found to be linked to your happiness, with one UK-based study noting that participants who made an effort to sleep more over four years enjoyed the same effects one can get from eight weeks of cognitive therapy and, surprisingly, winning a medium-sized lottery.

There's no overstating that sleep is the not-so-secret key to health and happiness, but why do we sometimes prevent ourselves from getting more snoozing time? You may find yourself occasionally binging a show on Netflix until the wee hours of the morning or scrolling through TikTok for far longer than you should, even when you know you could be using that time getting some well-deserved Zzzs instead. As it turns out, it's a common habit that many people engage in from time to time, and it's called revenge bedtime procrastination.

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination, in a nutshell, is essentially the act of intentionally delaying your bedtime and sacrificing sleep for more me-time. During weeks you're particularly busy, you may find yourself doing things you want at night instead of catching some rest as a form of "revenge" for not getting the chance to do so during the day. "Revenge bedtime procrastination is just a cry from overworked people, and they're actually trying to put off bedtime just a little bit so they can reclaim something for themselves," Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles told CNN.

It may not make sense to refuse sleep even when you know you need it, but experts note that for many people, it's their way of de-stressing, despite the end result being further sleep deprivation. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, told Self that if people "perceive themselves to have little regulation over their leisure time," the more they tend to fight sleep.

While it's understandable to want more time to yourself, permanently engaging in revenge bedtime procrastination can create problems. You probably don't need any more reminding that when you get very little sleep, you'll become unfocused, irritable, and sluggish during the day. The long-term effects are far greater, as chronic sleep deprivation is found to be linked to many serious health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and depression.

How to kick revenge bedtime procrastination to the curb

Fighting revenge bedtime procrastination can be tough, especially if you barely have time for yourself during the workday. But you can still kick the habit if you learn how to be more intentional about where you focus your energy. Instead of worrying too much about how you spend your time, reframe your mind to "refocusing your energy" instead, per Dr. Philip Clarke, lecturer in psychology at the University of Derby.

Speaking with Harper's Bazaar, he said: "Refocusing on energy, rather than time management, allows you to capitalize on the time you have for each task. This results in working more productively and efficiently when you feel energized, rather than trying to focus and be efficient at a time when your energy is low. The latter often leads to procrastinating, not being productive, and then beating yourself up about your lack of productivity." It may also help to schedule little breaks in between your important tasks, so you don't feel too spent at night and feel like your entire day was one big blur.

But if you insist on allotting more me-time to yourself, cognitive neuroscientist Lauren Whitehurst explained to NPR that it might be better to pick an activity or two instead of trying to do a bunch of things in a short amount of time, and then include them in your nighttime routine. This way, you can still indulge in the things that make you happy while simultaneously prioritizing getting more rest.