Picture this: you’ve had an incredibly busy day. One of those days if you ate lunch, you ate lunch while you were working or multitasking in some other way. It was one thing after another from the first thing (which, by the way, was too early) to the end of the day – and it wasn’t even all work! You bounced from one scheduled (or unscheduled) thing to another, and now it’s the end of the day, you should be headed off to sleep…but you’re not.
You’re taking time for yourself! That’s the best thing, right? So you turn on a movie, hang out with friends, scroll on your phone – anything but get a good night’s sleep. And instead of going to bed at a time that would allow you to get enough sleep to be rested for your tomorrow, you stay up way too late reclaiming that time you didn’t have during the day.
A few years ago I would have said, “Oh, this is just what I do!” As an often-overscheduled human that has a lack of free time, I find myself snagging the late-night hours for my own – no matter that it often starts a chain reaction of me not having enough sleep during the week. Now I know there is a name for this behavior: revenge bedtime procrastination.
According to psychologists, revenge bedtime procrastination refers to the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time – often due to an overscheduled daytime that lacks free time.
You see the problem, right? By choosing to get your free time at night – no matter what – you get insufficient sleep and sleep deprivation. And I’m not sure about you, but when I’m sleep deprived, I am a cranky mess of a human that doesn’t work and play well with others – including myself.
Basically, you can assess revenge bedtime procrastination in three ways:
1) Are you staying up in a way that results in less sleep? IE: you have to get up early.
2) Do you have a reason for staying up late? Like, is there a going away party, a birthday, an event, or are you not feeling well?
3) Are you aware that staying up late might end in you being exhausted tomorrow? (this is my worst one – I’m fully aware that staying up will lead to a terrible tomorrow.)
If you have these – welcome to the club – the club that affects mostly women and students.
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking “Oh, no” don’t worry – I’ll never introduce a concept I don’t have some support for! Here are some ways to combat revenge bedtime procrastination:
- Routines!This one is tough – even on off days, you should try to get up and go to bed around the same time. Your routine isn’t just about timing – it’s also about relaxation methods. Do you read or meditate before bed? One of the best parts of my bedtime routine is reading a great thriller.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine after a certain time. This will help you stay on that routine – if you’re struggling to fall asleep because of one too many late-night coffees – or drinks, which can keep you awake! – you’re going to get irritated and the revenge part might kick in where you start forcing yourself to stay awake to do something that doesn’t need to be done.
- Don’t bring your phone to bed. I know, I know – this is a struggle! But that light – from phones and tablets – isn’t doing you any favors in the sweet dream department.
And above all, start slow! If you know you do this, maybe skip the phone in bed for a few nights, or stop having that late-afternoon latte. Make your bedroom a peaceful, snuggly place so you can get the sleep you deserve.