Revenge Bedtime Procrastination – What's Behind the Phenomenon?

Revenge bedtime procrastination

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a modern phenomenon that affects more and more people. However, very few people are familiar with the term. It refers to the procrastination of sleep in the evening. Due to work or other commitments, we don't always have free time during the day, so we want to make up for the lost free time in the evening and stay awake longer than we actually want to. But postponing going to bed more and more has a negative impact on our well-being. Find out what the consequences of revenge bedtime procrastination are and how you can avoid postponing your bedtime at night.

Awake late into the night: What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a convoluted name for a common problem: even though you know you should be sleeping, you keep pushing back your bedtime. This is not uncommon in a society where our days – and therefore our time – are often dictated by work and other commitments. When we finally enjoy some free time in the evening, we want to catch up on everything we missed during the day. Whether it's binge-watching the latest Netflix series or scrolling on TikTok late into the night - it feels good to finally be able to decide for ourselves what we want to do. If only our guilty conscience didn't kick in at the back of our minds once we've turned night into day again. After all, we all know that sleep duration, like a healthy diet, is important for our well-being. But if we have the choice between a good night's sleep or a good night's program, we tend to zap through the TV channels rather than listen to our body's need for rest and go to bed on time. Getting too little sleep, however, can lead to health problems in the long term.

Why is going to bed late bad for us?

Stressed people are particularly affected

Revenge bedtime procrastination mainly affects people who have a very busy schedule and rarely have time for themselves. They tend to lose themselves in social media or streaming services for hours on end – even though they are tired enough to go to bed early. The lack of self-control at bedtime inevitably leads to a lack of sleep at some point.

Too little sleep leads to poor health and a bad mood

Do you regularly stay up until well past midnight? Then you've probably noticed yourself that you feel anything but well-rested the next morning. The phenomenon is called revenge bedtime procrastination because we procrastinate on what we actually need: sleep. And in fact, you are asking a lot of your body if you regularly ignore your need for rest and stay up too late. Staying up late and the associated sleep deprivation lead to a stress reaction in your body, as it can only carry out cell repairs and initiate important metabolic processes during sleep. Against this backdrop, fixed sleep routines and hence sufficient deep sleep are essential so that we feel rested and refreshed the next morning. However, if your sleep-wake cycle is pushed back due to being forced to stay up, your sleep often remains superficial, and you don't spend enough time in the deep sleep phase. Upon waking, you then feel exhausted and during the day you are constantly tired, irritable and have problems concentrating on your work


What types of revenge bedtime procrastination are there?

If you miss going to bed early once in a while because friends have visited you unexpectedly or a movie night has pushed back your usual bedtime, you don't immediately fall into the category of bedtime procrastination. The difference between procrastination and occasionally staying up late is that the former happens regularly and for no apparent reason. The person concerned is aware that they are damaging their own health in the long term. There are two types of revenge bedtime procrastination.

Postponing sleep while in bed

In the first case, falling asleep is postponed, so you are in bed at bedtime without intending to actually get to sleep. In such cases, you plan to go to sleep, but instead you are still texting with friends on your phone, scrolling through the news feed on social media, or watching videos on YouTube.

zu lange wach bleiben

Making up for lost time in the evening

In the second form of the procrastination phenomenon, going to bed itself is delayed, often by activities that promise entertainment: You sacrifice your bedtime by playing computer games or watching your favorite series on Netflix until it's well past midnight. The common thread between both types of revenge bedtime procrastination is that they significantly shorten the duration of your night's sleep, which means you no longer get enough rest.

Even if the procrastination behaviors differ slightly in comparison, they both boil down to one thing: a lack of sleep and a disturbed sleep-wake rhythm. For your health, however, you should urgently try to eliminate the causes of procrastination, get back into the habit of a healthy routine, and get more sleep – for example with the help of the following tips.

Bye bye sleep deprivation: how to regain a healthy sleep rhythm

It can be difficult to switch back to your natural sleep rhythm, especially if you have become accustomed to revenge bedtime procrastination. Try using the negative consequences that postponing sleep has on your health as a motivator to finally make a change. As soon as your body gets the rest it needs at night, you will feel more alert and full of energy again. The following tips will help you establish a healthy sleep hygiene to prepare your body and mind for a good night's sleep:

  • Practice going to bed at around the same time every evening and getting up at the same time in the morning.
  • You should put your smartphone and laptop away, as they only serve as a distraction. Even if short TikTok videos offer your brain a brief reward and you want to postpone going to bed, sleep is more important in the long term. It's best to put your devices into sleep mode before you go to bed.
  • Stop using digital devices at least one hour before going to bed, as the blue light could potentially have a negative effect on your sleep time. Bright screens prevent the sleep hormone melatonin from working and keep us awake longer than necessary.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks in the evening, as they lead to superficial sleep. Instead, try a recipe for a relaxing nightcap.
  • Choose a bedtime ritual: Something like a warm foot bath, keeping a diary, or a cuddle session with your pets.
  • Relaxation exercises such as yoga in the evening can help you relax and make it easier to fall asleep.
  • Listening to a sleep podcast is fun and entertaining and has a positive effect on your sleep quality.
  • Make your sleeping environment beautiful. A harmoniously designed, darkened bedroom and a comfortable mattress ensure that you feel particularly at ease in your bedroom – and automatically want to go to sleep earlier.

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Joel Sorrell /
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AntGor /

Tags: falling asleep, sleeping tips
Categories: Sleep Life Balance