Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: Stop Putting Off Sleep

What is an example of revenge bedtime procrastination, or otherwise known as sleep procrastination?

It is 8 p.m. and you are keenly aware that your night is coming to an end. The plan is to start your “get ready for bed” routine at 8:30. Then, be in bed by 9 to do a little reading on your paperback, to avoid screens.

Making sure the lights are off by 9:30 to be asleep by 10, so you can wake up refreshed at 6am. You know that studies show you should get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night and have certainly felt better when you did get enough sleep.

Then 8:30 comes and you are right in the middle of a game on your phone, so you decide to finish the game before you start getting ready for bed.

Just before you finish, you get a text from your sister asking for a recipe of yours that she loved! You finish up your game and head to your computer to find that recipe.

sleep procrastination


You find the recipe and email it, but before you logoff, you notice a post from a dear friend on Facebook and decide you should check it out quickly, before heading off to bed, in case it’s about something important.

The next time you look at the clock its 10pm. You reorganize your night, telling yourself that 7 hours of sleep is still in the healthy range, if you just get to bed and fall asleep in the next hour, you will be fine.

You get changed for bed, wash up and brush your teeth and suddenly remember that you have a family members birthday coming up, so you grab your phone, fall into bed, and start searching birthday present ideas.

Frustration sets in

As midnight approaches, you start feeling angry that you are not yet asleep and angry that you should have to be asleep in the first place. Why do you never feel like you get enough “me time?”

You shut off your phone and try to sleep, but your frustration keeps you awake for another hour, leaving you with just five hours of sleep. Well below the minimum seven needed for a healthy life.

If this is relatable, it’s not unique, in fact sleep procrastination is playing out in bedrooms all across the globe during the week. The great intentions, the minor interruptions, and the serious revenge bedtime procrastination.

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

So, what is revenge bedtime procrastination and why do we do it? It makes little sense to deliberately deprive oneself of much-needed sleep, but we are actively doing it night after night.

According to Sleep Foundation, when it comes to revenge bedtime procrastination there are multiple schools of thought regarding the origins of this phenomena.

Lower self-control

One positive is that by the end of the day, we are already tired and thus our ability to use self-control to follow through on our bedtime plans is at its lowest point.

It’s kind of like going to the grocery store hungry. Your self-control is weakened by the fact that you are hungry and then you walk up and down isle’s full of food. Naturally, you are going to have a harder time sticking to your grocery list.

In the same way, if at the end of the day, self-control is lower, and it may be harder to stick to your bedtime routine. Especially, if there are things that you like to do beckoning you.

Me time

Another school of thought is that we are lacking me-time to unwind after another long day, and this is a deliberate attempt to recapture some additional free time from the night.

With the current work from home trend, many find that the lines between work and free time have blurred, with work dominating often. It used to be a lot easier to stop working when you left that computer at the office.

Now, it’s harder to call it a night before its actually time to go to bed.

The leisure time that was lost is now being made up during time that should be spent sleeping. Things that would have likely happened in the evening, like screen time or games, are now being picked up at bedtime.

What’s interesting is that we know it’s going to cut into our sleep and yet we do it anyways.

The problem is that the behavior actually reinforces itself. The later you stay up, the more tired you become and the less self-controlled the next night. When that self-control is lower, it’s easy to say, “just one more game.”

The good news is that you can get out of this cycle. It may not be easy, but it is possible.

Set a limit

If you find your sleep procrastination includes never ending show watching, you will want to set a hard limit on the number of shows you allow yourself to watch a night, instead of just stopping when you think it’s a good time to.

An average TV show is about an hour, so limiting yourself to one a night should help with this time killer.

Set an alarm

As much as you mean to put down that phone, it’s hard when your mind is on something else…namely whatever is on your screen.

So, it’s important to have a hard stop. Setting an alarm will help you keep this from creeping into your sleep time.

When the alarm goes off, it’s time to take that phone, tablet or laptop and plug it in somewhere other than the bedroom. Allow it time to charge, while you recharge.

Have a plan

Once you’ve instituted the screen free time, have a plan for what you want to do, so that you aren’t tempted to find another rabbit hole.

Perhaps plan on a bath, some yoga or mediation. Just make sure you are choosing something calming to aid in sleep.

Once you can get this new routine in place, you will quickly find your sleep schedule back on track and sleep procrastination becomes easier to withstand.

Getting enough sleep will conversely help increase your self-control allowing you to stick to your routine.