Why You Face Revenge Bedtime Procrastination And How To Stop It

Who else sucks at going to bed? I never thought falling asleep would be a problem for me, seeing as it takes me 30 minutes to get out of bed in the morning, but I’m often scrolling on my phone three hours past when I get into bed. It’s not that I’m not tired — I’m often exhausted from the day. But I spend hours scrolling on my phone, watching TV, talking to someone on the phone, or any number of useless activities and I can’t seem to go to bed. Hi, my name is Markey and I revenge-bedtime-procrastinate like it’s my job.


What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

I believe everyone has suffered from this phenomenon at least once. At least, that’s what I tell myself to ease my guilt. Revenge bedtime procrastination originated from the Chinese termbàofùxìng áoyè’, which simply means ‘staying up late.’ The term was first used in 2018 and only gained popularity with the rise of COVID and all the mental blocks the pandemic created. 

Journalist Daphne K. Lee reported that revenge bedtime procrastination often happens when people don’t “have much control over their daytime life and refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours.” That’s why the people who often stay up late are also the ones who get up first thing in the morning. They want control over their lives and will do anything to find it.

Who Is Most Likely To Experience Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

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I don’t know of anyone who actually gets enough sleep. The most overworked groups of people suffer from revenge bedtime procrastination. 

A study done in November of 2021 found that half of all Americans feel tired throughout the day three to seven days a week. 35.2% of adults in America report sleeping for less than seven hours a night. And these hours continue to deplete for working adults, single parents, and workers in production-focused industries.

Another group that struggles with revenge bedtime procrastination are those who can’t self-regulate. Defeating procrastination is a mind game. You have to tell yourself to put the phone up and go to bed, just like you have to tell yourself to get up and go to work. For those who work from home, raise families, and have a slew of other responsibilities that they have to self-regulate throughout the day, there’s little to no discipline left over and decision fatigue sets in. That’s when revenge bedtime procrastination sneaks in. 

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Just once, I’d love to procrastinate doing something stupid. I’d love to procrastinate lying in bed, or calling my friends, or scrolling on social media. Adults are so susceptible to procrastination, it’s just not spoken about often. Research has found that 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators. They don’t often procrastinate going into work or doing their job at the office. They procrastinate under the covers and late at night. Adults are the most likely group to suffer from revenge bedtime procrastination because they’re the group who have the least amount of control over their days.

How Do I Stop?

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Procrastination is simply a self-regulation problem. Okay, maybe not ‘simply,’ but it’s in your control, no one else’s. While the act of procrastination can make us feel like we’re regaining some control over our days, revenge bedtime procrastination leads to less control the next day because we’re too tired to function. 

So how do we stop this endless cycle of procrastinating our rest in order to get more rest, but then being less rested? There are a few ways.

Detox from Devices

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you delete Facebook or throw your TV out the window. Sometimes, we need to mindlessly scroll or binge in order to relax after a long day’s work. 

If you find yourself losing sleep over these scrolls, look into detoxing for a week. If you’re on your phone 24/7, set up app limits or timers so that your phone doesn’t allow you to be on it 24/7. If you can’t go to sleep because you’re watching too much TV, move the set out of your room for a bit. Debate how much of your tech you want to let into your bedroom. Arianna Huffington moves her devices out of her room every night before she goes to bed so she won’t be distracted. Maybe practice that method for a few nights and see how you feel. 

Get Control Back

A core problem that leads to revenge bedtime procrastination is a lack of control. People who procrastinate on their sleep often do so because they feel as though their awake time is controlled by someone else. If this is you, look into creating little pockets in your day to relax. No, don’t quit your job or start going in late every day, but start setting aside 10 minutes, an hour, or more where you can be by yourself and do whatever you please. 

Look at your weekly to-do list and find a few days when you can have that freedom. If you work from home, break up your work day and your rest time by seeing your partner or watching TV. There’s no need to villainize tech, just maybe limit it when it gets in the way of your sleep.

Accept What You’ve Done in the Day

We don’t celebrate our daily accomplishments enough. In all actuality, we do so much every day, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Getting up, getting the kids to school, feeding your pets, yourself, your family, folding laundry, taking a walk, going to work, or any number of activities you do throughout the day take effort and you should celebrate them. By reveling in the small victories, you can find more peace at the end of the day and more easily shut your brain off.

Know It Won’t Always Be Like This

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We live in a crazy time. The holidays are happening, we work where we sleep, and there seems to be a new form of COVID every day. Our brains are always going to do weird things to adjust to these weird times. While I’m not promising everything will get better any time soon, I know that it won’t always be like this and we’ll find some regulation in our day again. It’s okay if you stay up late a few times a week. It’s okay that you want to do anything you can to regain control in these crazy times. Just don’t let that need for control end up controlling you.


Do you suffer from revenge bedtime procrastination? Have you heard of it before? Comment below!

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