Have you ever stayed up late to catch up on an episode of your favourite series or catch up on your reading instead of going to sleep at a reasonable hour because of your heavy workload during the day? There’s a chance you might be revenge bedtime procrastinating.
The term first caught everyone’s attention after journalist Daphne K Lee tweeted the Chinese expression “bàofùxìng áoyè”, which literally translates to ‘retaliatory staying up late’. However, it was a study paper in 2014 from the Netherlands by Dr Floor Kroese that first proposed bedtime procrastination.
What has actually caught everyone’s attention though is the word ‘revenge’ – and what this simply tells us is that this behaviour is deliberate. We choose to stay up and watch another episode on Netflix or read a new chapter or just scroll through Instagram- all of this in an effort to take revenge on our busy daytime schedule.
Dr Kroese and her colleagues defined bedtime procrastination as “going to bed later than intended, without having external reasons for doing so”. Another study found that an individual is more likely to indulge in this behaviour if they have to resist desires during the rest of the day.
This inadvertently tells us that if an individual performs activities during the daytime that are less enjoyable, they are more likely to substitute their sleep with leisure time, trying to reclaim that time at night by indulging in pleasurable activities which they couldn’t do during the day.
While researchers have not been able to pinpoint one specific cause of this behaviour, there are multiple factors that might make you more vulnerable to it.
Some individuals like those who prefer working during the night (or night owls) or those who generally procrastinate are more prone to this kind of behaviour. Those who work in a high-stress environment are also more likely to sidelines sleep for leisure activities to destress.
Another major cause of concern is the blurring of lines between work and home, considerably so during this pandemic. Now, more than ever, people are working from home, which could give them a feeling of ‘always being at work’ – therefore increasing their likelihood of bedtime procrastination.
Researchers have also found a link between self-regulation and bedtime procrastination, suggesting those with poor self-regulation are more likely to cater to bedtime procrastination. Self-regulation is the ability to manage your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in a positive way for better well-being and loving relationships.
A number of studies have already established getting good, uninterrupted sleep at night is not only good for your physical health but also for your mental health. Researchers have tied a good night’s sleep to our ability to focus on work, be productive, have mood regulation, and many other health benefits.
It is then safe to assume that revenge bedtime procrastination is counterproductive and unhealthy. While a lack of proper sleep for a few days here and there would just lead to grogginess the next day, a persistent lack of sleep would affect everything from your physical health and libido to your mental health.
It is important to note here that individuals with bedtime procrastination want to sleep but just put it off until they gain a sense of control of their daily lifestyles while partaking in pleasurable activities.
The most straightforward thing you can do if you find yourself in this soup is to get enough sleep – and this cannot be stressed enough. Here’s what you can do to ensure you get quality sleep at night
While there’s nothing wrong with drinking a daily cuppa, it becomes pivotal that you don’t power through your day with just caffeine and sugar.
If you are a fan of taking daytime naps, try to limit these naps to no more than 30 minutes. Try to take it earlier on during the day to reap benefits.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do today is to not use any kind of device at least an hour before bed. Your brain will find it hard to relax when you bombard it with bright screens, information, and images. Resort to old-fashioned book reading for a peaceful night’s sleep.
It is also important to maintain a routine and fix the time you go to bed and wake up. This routine helps your body in its day-to-day functioning and will keep you healthy.
Before you call it a night, adjust your lights and room temperature. Dim down any bright screens or clocks, and try to use soothing noises to put yourself to sleep. There are a number of apps on the market that will help you do this.
Try to consume your dinner at least 3-4 hours before your bedtime and avoid snacking before your sleep hour. If you eat a lot before hitting the sack, you may become restless during your sleep.