Have you ever found yourself drained after a tiring day, yet the moment you lie down on your bed, you simply cannot fall asleep and all you want to do is doomscroll through Instagram? If so, you might be facing ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’. 

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a phenomenon that describes the decision to sacrifice sleep for personal leisure time driven by a relentless daily schedule. The sacrifice of sleep ultimately leaves the individual worse off than if they had chosen to get some rest.

Causes of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

The expression ‘bàofùxìng áoyè’ originated in China about 4 years ago and is translated as ‘retaliatory staying up late’. It spread rapidly on Twitter in June 2022 after a post by journalist Daphne K Lee. She described the phenomenon as when “people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours”.  

Canadian students are well known to put off sleep in favour of many other important activities. Even with the best intentions, scrolling through Tiktok can suddenly become more important than getting sleep before the student rises to face another busy day.

Caregivers are classic perpetrators of revenge bedtime procrastination, and with 35% of Canadians working full-time going home to do a second unpaid shift, the pain is real. After a day spent working and/or caring for baby or an elderly loved one, 15 minutes in a quiet house – even at 3am – becomes a place of profound peace. That 15 minutes however is often stolen from much-needed sleep time.

Business people also suffer from revenge bedtime procrastination. Workdays can be very stimulating and with work creeping into our spaces of sanctuary at home, it’s important to carve out ways to decompress with concentrated ‘me time’ as the day comes to an end.

Effects of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Revenge bedtime procrastination often manifests as chronic insomnia, headaches, anxiety, inability to focus, or even a weakened immune system. 

Due to its silent role in causing many other sleep issues, revenge bedtime procrastination is often the last thing which crosses an individual’s mind when trying to resolve an issue with sleep. The syndrome manifests differently in each individual, so it is a phenomenon that often goes unrecognized by physicians who might not know their patient on a deeper level. 

Revenge bedtime procrastination can highlight the important role family physicians should play in forming connections with their patients. Discussing sleep routines with a physician can help them point out revenge bedtime procrastination as a potential cause of sleeping issues. 

The role our daily lifestyles and habits play in shaping our health is often underestimated. Healthcare should include medical approaches, but can also include preventative, upstream treatment options. 

Conquer This Inefficient Sleep Habit 

Now that you are sure revenge bedtime procrastination is what you are suffering from, what to do to eliminate it? Here are a few Insider Tips to help you conquer this nasty habit.

If you feel that you tend to overwork during the day: 

  1. Time Blocking 

Consciously prioritize breaks by blocking out some time in the day to do an activity you enjoy. Be realistic about your task load and if need be, consider moving a task to another day.

  1. Reward yourself

We tend to overlook many achievements in life. Getting a project in or finishing a midterm is something to celebrate. Recognize the effort you put into the work you do, and reward yourself with something non-work related.

If you feel that you tend to procrastinate during the day: 

  1. Avoid Distractions 

Switch off your phone for a designated amount of time and close the door to your office. Focused time with no distractions will help you get your work done.

  1. Establish clear boundaries between your sleep and work environment 

Doing work or social activities in bed forces your brain to associate your sleeping environment with stimulation from your phone, reading a book, watching Netflix, or getting work done. Try to keep stimulating activities outside of the bedroom, and create a space to relax, rest and recuperate.

  1. Create Realistic Work Schedules 

Being our imperfect selves, many of us take on too much. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when work schedules are flooded with tasks and obligations. To prevent this, try to understand how long each task will realistically take you, and alter your schedule accordingly.

Be realistic and patient with yourself. You deserve it.

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