What is revenge bedtime procrastination and how can you deal with it?


Revenge bedtime procrastination is a misguided attempt to reclaim our time (Picture: Getty Images)

You know full well that you really should get to bed at a reasonable time.

You’re always tired in the morning and constantly moan about how you’re in need of some proper rest.

So why are you still awake, yet again, past midnight?

It could be down to a phenomenon called revenge bedtime procrastination.

This is a phrase that describes the act of staying up later than you should in order to do leisure activities – whether that’s watching TV, scrolling Twitter, or deciding now is the perfect time to reorganise your drawers.

It’s when you keep putting off your bedtime, not because you have stuff you actually need to do, but because you’re fed up of not being able to do fun things during the day, whether because of work or family commitments.

Dr Verena Senn, sleep expert at Emma, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘For those who feel their daytime is consumed by their busy schedules, revenge bedtime procastination is all about taking back control of their own time, even at the expense of sleep.’

Dr Verena says this habit has become all the more enticing in lockdown, especially as we’ve seen the boundaries blurred between our work and home lives.

As you might expect, this isn’t a positive trend.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours of high quality sleep a night, and if you’re regularly failing to get that, you’re racking up a load of sleep debt – which can cause havoc on your mental and physical health.

Oh, and research suggests that you can’t just ‘catch up’ on sleep at the weekend. You really do need to have a proper bedtime and stick to it.

So, how do you tackle revenge bedtime procrastination?


girl lies on the floor with a laptop, learning lessons, doing homework.

Delaying your bedtime isn’t the answer to our exhausting work culture (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The first step is recognising that this is an issue, not a way to ‘hack’ your time and get back all the TV-watching you miss out on because you have to go to work.

Then, take a look at when this behaviour happens. Is there a particular trigger for staying up later than you should? Try keeping a diary for a bit so you can notice any patterns.

Perhaps you’re more likely to engage in bedtime procrastination when you’ve worked late, or when you feel like you’ve wasted your evening time on life admin.

If that’s the case, the solution may be as simple as time management. Take back your relaxation hours from time that isn’t earmarked for sleep, whether that means making it a must that you leave work on time, or planning out your evenings so they don’t flash past in a zoom of nothingness.

Dr Verena also recommends taking a look at your sleep hygiene – not how clean you are when you go to bed, but if you’re nailing the behavioural and environmental recommendations for the best quality sleep.

‘Some really easy steps to take could be avoiding caffeine – especially in the afternoons, keeping your bedroom dark and keeping away from screens at least an hour before you sleep,’ says Dr Verena. ‘It may also be a good idea to be exercising for 30 minutes a day (but not two to three hours before bedtime) and making sure you’ve got a healthy and varied diet.

‘Sticking to a sleep schedule is a great foundation but it’s also important to make sure you’re winding down in the evening. A few ways to do this could be through having a hot bath, reading a book, or some meditation.

‘Most importantly, try thinking of these sleep hygiene practices a part of your “me time” rather than another chore in your already busy schedule – otherwise they’re likely to become just another part of your day you’ll feel you need “revenge” on.

‘This may be tricky but tailor the activity to what works best for you, habits are easier to keep if they bring you joy – consistency is key when it comes to our sleep!’

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