Coping strategies

“Just, one more scroll” — Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

by Shenice Long

This is an article inspired by our friends at @shityoushouldcareabout, after a great post they did on revenge bedtime procrastination.

It’s been a long day, and it’s late at night. You’re scrolling through Instagram or perhaps watching your recent YouTube recommendations. You’re super tired but you fight the desire to sleep.

Sounds like your typical Wednesday night?

Well, researchers have coined a term for this seemingly benign phenomenon – revenge bedtime procrastination.

So what is revenge bedtime procrastination, and how is it harmful? We delve right into its definition and origins, as well as a few ways you can combat it and get better sleep.

What is revenge bedtime procrastination? 

Many of us, I’m sure, would be no stranger to this phenomenon. I find myself often looking forward to the late hours of the day to catch up on the newest TV show craze or scrolling through my social media feeds. Even when I know that I’m tired and should probably get some sleep to avoid the feeling of death on my doorstep the next day.

Yet, I still do it. Why?

When we’re so occupied with work, daily errands, or other household chores, how many of us have the time to do everything we want during the day?

We often put off going to bed at night to engage in leisure activities and have some quality ME time we didn’t have time for during the day. And these are common signs of revenge bedtime procrastination. In its most literal sense – it’s taking revenge on your daytime hours.

We seek to regain that sense of freedom we lacked in the day, at the expense of sleep. 

The term, ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ is a translation of the Chinese phrase, 報復性熬夜. With the brutal 996 system (9am – 9pm, 6 days a week) worked by many professionals in China, it’s safe to assume the idea of procrastinating going to bed has been around for a long time. Especially when people are left with almost no time to themselves as they work high-stress jobs during the day. 

However, the term ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ is relatively new in the Western world, though it’s gaining traction. In a world with ever-increasing distractions and technology, more of us are simply staying up past dark just because we can. 

The impacts of revenge bedtime procrastination

The problem is it can disrupt your sleep schedule and lead to sleep deprivation, especially when it becomes a recurring habit.

If this is the case, you may feel irritable and exhausted. When we’re irritable, we can get into more conflicts, be prone to act or react impulsively, or we might withdraw altogether. All of this is pretty much bad news for anyone wanting to get the most out of their daily life.

How can we combat it?

Despite wanting or needing to sleep, this pattern develops when we prioritise our need for alone and/or free time. There are a few things you can do during your day that will help limit your need to carve out time for yourself in the evening or procrastinate going to bed.

Let’s look at some ways you can get your sleep and your ME time. 🔍

1. Take breaks to rest during the day – and nothing else.

Working continuously for five hours can be tough on your brain and body. It’s essential to take breaks, be it for five or 10 minutes. Try to avoid checking emails, your phone, and TV shows at that time. 

Go for a walk, stretch, stand on your balcony, or shut your eyes. The time will seem much longer and it can (partially) satisfy the need to have some time for yourself. 

2. Give yourself a moment to do what you enjoy.

This doesn’t have to be a large-sized goal. Doing small things you enjoy, be it talking to your friend or making a mug cake, can help you feel better about yourself. Maybe you can combine the talk and the cake making to increase the pleasure.

3. Establishing a nighttime routine.

Lack of a fixed bedtime prevents you from realising how “late” it has gotten. Having a set time makes you more attentive about when you should sleep and provides a clear cue for preparing for bed. 

Giving yourself 1 hour before your bedtime to wind down by reading a book, journalling or doing crossword puzzles (whatever suits you!) could help you feel more sleepy and head to bed by your bedtime. 

4. Modify your surroundings.

Like any other form of procrastination, try to alter the situations where you’re likely to get tempted to stay awake. Ensuring we exercise proper sleep hygiene is also paramount in assuring quality sleep. Turn off the lights and minimise all distractions. 

For example, if TV shows or online shopping/browsing (we’ve all done it! 👀) keep you awake, shut your laptop/mobile one hour before going to sleep. Store it away from your bed, ideally in another room, to ensure you won’t be disturbed by notifications sounding off or your screen lights going off.

With a bit of practice, these are some great habits that can drastically help to reduce the amount of bedtime procrastination you do each night. With lasting impacts on your mood the next day, especially if you are a frequent late-night scroller, there is a lot to gain by making a few little changes.

For some of us though, there are other reasons that lead to delaying sleep. Perhaps you struggle with anxiety, nightmares or other sleep-related issues. If this is the case, we’ve got you covered.

Bravely is built by a small team of psychologists, therapists, designers, and most importantly – real humans, who have spent way too long struggling with our mental health. We understand how tricky it is to feel better, because we’ve been there too. Through scientific research, smart tech, beautiful design and lots of funny GIFs, Bravely is like having a therapist and a friend in your pocket. Come say hey- we’d love to meet you!

Written By

Shenice Long

Hey I’m Shenice 🤗 I’m a Psychology undergraduate passionate in the field of mental health and wellbeing. Only as I grew older did I come to realise the importance of establishing a healthy connection between myself and my emotions and appreciated the importance of mental health. As an aspiring Clinical Psychologist, I hope to bring change in any way I can to the mental health scene that truly has so much more room for improvement!

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