How to Overcome Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

7 min read
Evidence based
Dainius Jakucionis, MD
By Dainius Jakucionis, MD Updated on 2024 Jan 23
an example of revenge bedtime procrastination where the girls scrolls through her phone late at night

Have you ever found yourself doom-scrolling social media or watching TV late at night despite knowing you should already be in bed, but you just can’t help yourself? Some say it’s laziness, but it could be revenge bedtime procrastination.

Avoiding sleep to get a few extra minutes for yourself or your hobbies can seem okay at times – spending time relaxing or doing something you love can be an excellent way to unwind. 

However, constantly delaying your bedtime because you don’t want the next day to come indicates that something is just not right. 

Not to mention that sleep loss can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental health.

What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is not a widely recognized term or concept in the medical community. Instead, it’s a term used to describe staying up late at night as a form of retaliation or revenge for some perceived slight or injustice. 

Usually, revenge bedtime procrastination happens when a person feels not in control of their time during the day, so they try to compensate at night.

This behavior can be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health, as lack of sleep can lead to decreased productivity and increased stress levels.

A glance at procrastination

Procrastination, in its essence, is an act of delaying a task or a project because it causes emotional discomfort. To avoid feeling stressed or uneasy, a person procrastinates, which can lead to missed deadlines and emotional distress.

Therefore, procrastination is a defense mechanism aimed at guarding a person against discomfort and letting them feel in control of their feelings.

In terms of revenge bedtime procrastination, avoiding going to sleep is a coping strategy, too – likely because something during the day makes a person feel out of control.

To stop procrastinating, a person should explore the underlying reasons – emotional triggers – for their procrastination and actively seek to break out of the cycle.

What Causes Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

There might be a variety of reasons why a person procrastinates on their bedtime, but studies show that certain anxieties can inflict bedtime procrastination. 

Knowing that daytime activities, responsibilities, and expectations will cause feelings of distress, the person chooses to stay in control of the time they have – at night. 

In addition, workload or stress at work might make individuals more prone to revenge bedtime procrastination. 

Subconsciously, individuals might delay their bedtime because of upcoming discomfort during work hours. In short, going to sleep means that the stress from the workplace will start sooner.

Some people also avoid going to bed because of general sleeping issues, such as insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, or other poor sleeping habits. If sleeping issues prevent you from having a proper sleep routine, consult your physician.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to beat revenge bedtime procrastination, there are several ways to eliminate this unhealthy habit from your routine.

1# Ask yourself why are you procrastinating on sleep

You may not find the answer right away, but try to get in touch with your emotions, experiences, and bodily feelings. What are your body and mind trying to tell you?

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Am I experiencing intense stress and/or anxiety during the day?
  • Is my bedtime routine consistent?
  • Do I have sleeping issues that prevent me from getting a good night’s sleep?
  • Could my screen time before bed be the culprit?
  • Do I have enough time during the day to enjoy my hobbies or engage in personal projects?

2# Address stress and anxiety you encounter during the day

Whether at work, school, or elsewhere, you might be experiencing stress and anxiety that you wish to avoid through revenge bedtime procrastination.

Instead of delaying your bedtime, try to find effective techniques to relax and soothe yourself in the moment of distress. Try mood journaling, meditation, working on your work-life balance, or other methods. 

The Sensa app has a vast collection of Quick-Relief exercises to get you back into the right mind space.

3# Establish a consistent bedtime routine

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – weekends included. This way, you’ll be able to ensure you’re getting enough sleep and normalize your internal circadian rhythm.

Make going to bed a systemic routine – have a relaxing bath or shower, read a book, or meditate before bed. It will help you unwind and get mentally ready for sleep

Additionally, limit screen time before bed. Exposure to blue light from screens suppresses melatonin – a hormone associated with the sleep-wake cycle – production in the brain, which might make it difficult to fall asleep.

There’s a possibility that poor sleep hygiene is a culprit for your bedtime procrastination.

It Starts With Exploring Yourself

Revenge bedtime procrastination might be the most prominent form of procrastination that you notice, but emotional dysregulation often makes people procrastinate in other areas.

Fearing failure or being too hard on yourself can make your days difficult and unenjoyable. But with the right tools, consistency, and dedication, you can escape the procrastination loop and live your life to the fullest again.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is revenge bedtime procrastination a symptom of?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a complex behavior with various potential underlying factors. It can be a symptom of stress, anxiety, depression, or burnout. These conditions can cause individuals to feel overwhelmed and deprived of relaxation time during the day. Bedtime procrastination can become a way to regain a sense of control and enjoy leisure activities before going to bed.

Is revenge bedtime procrastination ADHD?

While revenge bedtime procrastination is not specifically associated with ADHD, it can be more prevalent among individuals with ADHD. The impulsiveness and distractibility common in ADHD can make it challenging to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and resist the urge to delay bedtime for engaging in leisure activities.

How do I fix my revenge bedtime procrastination?

Addressing revenge bedtime procrastination requires a holistic approach that addresses the underlying causes and promotes healthy sleep habits. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Identify and address stress: Manage stress levels through relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
  • Prioritize sleep: Schedule adequate sleep hours into your daily routine and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Wind down before bed by avoiding screen time, reading a book, or taking a warm bath.
  • Optimize your sleep environment: Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool for better sleep quality.
  • Limit daytime napping: Napping can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you feel the need to nap, limit it to 20 minutes or less in the afternoon.
  • Seek professional help: If you experience persistent sleep problems or underlying mental health conditions, consider consulting a therapist or sleep specialist for personalized guidance.

What is revenge bedtime procrastination called?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is also known as “báofùxìng áoyè” in Chinese, which roughly translates to “retaliatory staying up late.” The term gained popularity in 2019 after a Twitter post by Daphne K Lee highlighted the phenomenon.

What are the consequences of revenge bedtime procrastination?

Chronically delaying bedtime can have significant negative consequences on physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can lead to:

  • Increased risk of chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Impaired cognitive function, including decreased alertness, memory, and decision-making abilities
  • Emotional instability, including increased anxiety, irritability, and mood swings
  • Reduced productivity and performance
  • Increased risk of accidents and injuries

How can I prevent revenge bedtime procrastination from happening?

Avoiding revenge bedtime procrastination requires proactive measures to maintain healthy sleep habits and address underlying stressors. Here are some preventive strategies:

  • Schedule regular exercise: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels.
  • Limit screen time before bed: The blue light emitted from electronic devices can suppress melatonin production, disrupting sleep. Avoid screen time for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Even on weekends, stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule to regulate your circadian rhythm.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Engage in calming activities like reading, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music before bed.
  • Optimize your bedroom environment: Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool to promote better sleep.
  • Address underlying stressors: If you experience persistent stress or anxiety, seek professional help to develop coping mechanisms.

What are resources available for overcoming revenge bedtime procrastination?

Numerous resources can guide you in overcoming revenge bedtime procrastination and establishing healthy sleep habits. Besides Sensa app, here are some suggestions which can be helpful:

  • The National Sleep Foundation: Provides comprehensive information on sleep hygiene, tips for better sleep, and a sleep diary tool to track sleep patterns.
  • The American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Offers free resources on sleep disorders, sleep tips, and sleep schedules.
  • The Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Provides information and support for managing stress, anxiety, and depression, which can contribute to revenge bedtime procrastination.
  • Sleep apps and trackers: Utilize apps or wearable devices to track sleep patterns, set reminders, and provide personalized sleep recommendations.

Remember, overcoming revenge bedtime procrastination is a gradual process that requires patience and consistent effort. By implementing healthy sleep habits and addressing underlying stressors, you can improve your sleep quality, enhance your overall well-being, and reduce the risk of negative health consequences.

Dainius Jakucionis, MD

Dainius is a renowned psychotherapist, holding a Master’s Degree in Medicine and additional training in Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy.