When you put off going to sleep
Raise your hand if you regularly find yourself scrolling through your favourite social media sites while lying in bed or catching up on the news long after you were supposed to go to sleep. You’re not alone.
If you’re like most people, you chalk up your late nights to taking a little time to unwind before falling asleep. But psychologists say there might be more behind your nightly activities than you think. They call it “revenge bedtime procrastination” and it can lead to sleep deprivation and other issues connected to a lack of sleep: memory loss, lack of alertness, a weakened immune system, and even some mental health challenges.
Revenge bedtime procrastination
The Sleep Foundation describes revenge bedtime procrastination as going to bed later than planned without a practical reason for doing so. Ultimately, you decide to sacrifice sleep for leisure time.
A study from researchers in the Netherlands described bedtime procrastination in 2014 in Frontiers in Psychology and the concept had soon spread globally.
You’ve grasped the bedtime part. And it’s pretty clear you’re procrastinating sleeping. But where does revenge come in? The answer to that intrigues psychologists.
It seems people who do not have much control over their time during the day stay up at night to regain a sense of control and freedom. It’s a sort of subconscious form of revenge, if you will. Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and certified sleep expert with the Better Sleep Council, says sleep scientists are fascinated because what appears as a simple coincidence might have deeper psychological roots.
How do you know if you’re a revenge bedtime procrastinator?
You might be guilty of bedtime procrastination if you:
Suffer from a loss of sleep due to frequently delaying your bedtime
Delay your bedtime for no apparent reason
Continue to stay up past your bedtime despite knowing it could lead to negative consequences
Janelle Watson, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Embrace Wellness, stresses that we shouldn’t confuse bedtime procrastination with staying up late to do work or to finish homework. Those are both reasons to push your bedtime back, but when you procrastinate sleep you don’t check items off your to-do list.
“The subconscious psychological goal of revenge bedtime procrastination is to take back control over your time,” says Watson. Bedtime and sleep procrastination tends to include activities that provide immediate enjoyment, such as watching Netflix, reading, talking to friends, or surfing the Internet.