Escaping Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

By Francheska Pacheco, Press & Written Media Team

It’s three in the morning. The lights are dimmed, and you’re scrolling through TikTok memes once again. While your eyelids feel heavy and your brain hates you because it knows that you’ll feel exhausted in the morning, you just can’t stop yourself. After all, your day hasn’t quite finished yet.

​Maybe there’s that one video game that you’ve been trying to level up on, or you’ve just gotten home and you finally have a moment to yourself. Maybe now’s even the perfect opportunity to start on that essay you’ve spent the whole day procrastinating on (oops)!

As it turns out, ​these are all examples of “revenge bedtime procrastination,” where we actively choose to sacrifice our sleep to get a little more time for ourselves. With busy schedules and overwhelming assignments, it can be easy to fall into the loop — but while it can be such an addictive habit, there are a couple of ways to break out of it. Try out a few and see if your brain thanks you the following day!

But first, what exactly is revenge bedtime procrastination?

To put it simply, it’s the act of procrastinating on going to bed at the appropriate time to have some more “me-time,” often by browsing social media or binge-watching some Netflix episodes. It’s “revenge” as you’re deliberately sabotaging your sleep to catch up on things you didn’t or couldn’t do during the day (i.e. relaxing hobbies).

The thing is, practically everyone has done this at least once in their lives; however, it’s not great to make it a habit. While we all know about the effects of sleep deprivation, long-term RBP can heavily affect your memory, daily performance and mood levels (kindly speaking). If you want to stay on top of your game while catching up on Grey’s Anatomy episodes, you might want to try these tips:

1. Take small breaks throughout your day

While it’s easier said than done, taking small breaks throughout your day allows you to regain some of that precious “me-time.” Spare 15 minutes every once in a while during work to center yourself and maybe stream a bit of your show, too. RBD is a natural phenomenon but those who tend to have greater workloads are more prone to sacrificing their evenings to unwind. So rather than taking from your resting time, take bits out of your working time to balance it out.

Also remember to spare some time to exercise (even 20 minutes a day). While it can feel like a chore, you’ll feel better and mentally healthier in the long run.

2. Sleep and repeat

Put a timer for your phone and stick to it. Once bedtime hits, turn everything off. And yes, it is incredibly difficult, but consistency is key. You want to build a habit of unwinding in a healthier way and saying no to your phone notifications. Another good thing to do is to unplug before bedtime hits. If you can develop a bedtime routine (reading books, self-care, meditate etc.) 20 minutes before it hits, chances are you can sleep easier and feel much more energized for the following day.

3. A strict sleeping environment

To battle this habit, it’s best not to bring your devices to the bedroom. Keep it at a place that’s used for just sleeping and getting rest. Your brain will associate the environment as one for snoozing (after practice, of course), which again can make it easier for restful sleep and limiting your chances of RBD. If you’re aiming to relax before sleeping (watching movies or gaming, for example), consider chilling in the living room.

4. BONUS: Melatonin’s a friend

After everything that’s said, withdrawal can be hard. We can stumble a few times when trying to battle this habit, and that’s totally OK. We’re human, after all. The goal is to limit the tendency for RBD and build healthier habits around your sleep. If you find that you still can’t sleep without your RBD activities, taking across-the-counter melatonin may help you, which is completely safe to take every night. For many of us, fixing our bedtimes can’t be done immediately. What we need is patience to get through this and consistency (along with a little extra help if things take longer than usual).

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