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Remember all the antics and excuses you used as a kid to delay your bedtime? “Just 10 more minutes.” “I’ll go to bed as soon as this show is over.” “But I’m almost finished with this game.”
As it turns out, more and more of us are using the same stall tactics as adults. Now, it’s a phenomenon called revenge bedtime procrastination.
Put simply, revenge bedtime procrastination is intentionally delaying your bedtime in favor of other things, like watching movies, scrolling social media, reading or spending time on a hobby.
A deeper dive into this phenomenon suggests some profound emotional and psychological ties.
People who purposely put off going to sleep often do so because they feel like they lack control during the day. After 12 to 14 hours or more at the mercy of a packed work schedule, a long list of household chores (we’re talking to you, moms) and a calendar chock full of family commitments, they fight back for “me” time.
Nothing. It’s the timing that’s the issue.
A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found people have many pursuits they want to engage in every day – most commonly eating, media consumption and leisure activities. But we often skip out on those desires because our busy schedules won’t allow it.
The more activities people said they missed and the more times they resisted the temptation to do them throughout their waking hours, the more they purposely put off bedtime to try to fit it all in – even when they are tired.
“People use revenge bedtime procrastination to carve out some time at the end of the day when they feel in command, time to do what they wish they could have been doing during the day,” says registered nurse and BSC sleep expert Terry Cralle. “That’s the ‘revenge’ part of the equation. But by self-sabotaging their sleep, they’re ultimately taking that revenge out on themselves.”
Based on the number of recent medical research studies and increased amount of discussion on the topic, revenge bedtime procrastination appears to have become more prevalent since COVID-19 and has blurred the different parts of our days even more than usual.
Though scrolling social media or catching up on your favorite TV show might seem like a good way to decompress after a long day, these mindless, nonproductive pastimes actually add to your stress and anxiety and even jeopardize your health when they cut into the restorative rest your brain and body need. The blue light from all your screens disrupts your biological clock, making your body think it should stay awake; you end up ruining your productivity the next day and perpetuating a cycle of fatigue.
Bottom line: It’s not something you want to become a habit.
“It’s important to make time during the day for yourself, so you won’t be so tempted to undermine your sleep at night,” suggests Cralle. “Prioritize your health just like you would an important meeting or appointment.”
Do you think you’re a revenge bedtime procrastinator? If so, there are several healthy habits you can incorporate into your everyday life, so you can still get that quality “me” time and reduce the urge to stay up past your bedtime:
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