What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?


Revenge bedtime procrastination describes an increasingly common phenomenon where people deliberately delay going to sleep so they can indulge in leisure activities. It first came into use in a 2014 paper researching a new area of procrastination at bedtime. Revenge bedtime procrastination isn’t just about staying up late. The addition of “revenge” to bedtime procrastination is believed to originate from a phrase that describes the habit of “revenge” on long workdays to take back some control over one’s time at the end of the day to relax and unwind. 

You spend your days juggling work deadlines, errands, and family commitments. By the time you finally have a moment to catch your breath, it seems, it’s time to head to bed. The pressure to unwind and recharge after a long day can be strong. Revenge bedtime procrastination can be a way for you to “rebel” against the constraints of your schedule and carve out some personal time.

It may feel satisfying to indulge in your late-night activities at the time. However, sacrificing your sleep can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. Improving your Executive Function skills and adopting other strategies can help you overcome revenge bedtime procrastination. 

Symptoms or behaviors of revenge bedtime procrastination

How do you know if you’re just restless while you toss and turn, wide awake, or dealing with revenge bedtime procrastination? Some telltale signs are:

  • The “just one more” trap — You may find yourself reaching for the remote and muttering to yourself, “Just one more episode,” or turning the page, saying, “Just one more chapter,” while promising yourself you’ll sleep in for a bit longer in the morning or on your next day off. 
  • The urgency to unwind — You feel a sense of urgency to try to cram in needed “me time” before you sleep, even if you’re exhausted.
  • The fluctuating sleep schedule — We get it. The days are long and the years are short. Kids’ activities are here, there, and everywhere. Deadlines make for long evenings. Exam time leaves you hitting the books day and night. The list goes on and on, but it boils down to your sleep schedule taking the hit and becoming a moving target. One night you can be in bed by 10 p.m. and the next night you’re scrolling social media well past midnight. 
  • The daytime drag — You may feel very fatigued, have a hard time concentrating, and become irritable during the day.


Who is most affected by revenge bedtime procrastination?

While revenge bedtime procrastination can affect anyone, certain groups of people may be more susceptible. Here’s who and why:

  • The busy professionalPeople with demanding work schedules, long commutes, or overwhelming workloads can struggle to find personal time during the day. When they finally have a moment to breathe, the temptation to stay up late and unwind can be strong. 
  • The stressed-out parent — Parents, especially those with young children, rarely have a free moment. Revenge bedtime procrastination can be a way to steal back some “me time” after a day filled with diaper changes, school plays, sporting events, and other endless demands. 
  • The night owl with ADHDPeople with ADHD can struggle with Executive Dysfunction and have a hard time with time management and planning. This can make it harder for them to establish a consistent sleep routine. The stimulating nature of electronic devices can also be tempting and further delay bedtime.
  • The overachieving studentStudents, especially those in high school or college, can face a pressure cooker of academic demands, extracurricular activities, and social commitments. This can leave them feeling like they can only squeeze in some personal time late at night.
  • The perfectionist — Perfectionists often set unrealistically high standards for themselves and then feel like they have to keep working until everything is “perfect.” This can cause them to stay up late trying to complete tasks or revise their work, sacrificing sleep in the process.
  • The procrastinator — While people with ADHD can struggle with Executive Dysfunction, they aren’t the only ones. Procrastinators tend to put things off until the last minute instead of effectively managing their time. This can lead to them cramming work or studying into the night before a deadline. This time crunch and sleep sacrifice can leave them feeling stressed out and sleep-deprived.
  • The heavy tech user — We’re living in a digital world where many people rely on technology for work, entertainment, and social connection. However, the constant stimulation from electronic devices can disrupt sleep patterns and make it harder to unwind before bed. The blue light emitted from screens also suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep. 


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Consequences of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

A good night’s sleep is essential for everyone, regardless of personality type or profession. Chronic sleep deprivation, the result of consistently sacrificing sleep, can have a wide range of negative consequences on your physical and mental health:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Cognitive decline
  • Decreased productivity
  • Negative mood and emotional well-being
  • Increased risk of chronic conditions
  • Mental health impacts 
  • Disrupted circadian rhythms
  • Compromised safety


How to prevent revenge bedtime procrastination

Ready to break the cycle of revenge bedtime procrastination and prioritize a healthy sleep schedule? Here are some practical steps you can take:

  • Craft a consistent sleep routine — The key to healthy sleep is consistency. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This also means don’t hit the snooze button. Keeping a consistent schedule can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine — Create a calming routine that signals to your body that it’s time to wind down. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, or listening to calming music. Avoid stimulating activities like watching TV or using electronics for at least an hour before bed. 
  • Optimize your sleep environment — Make sure your bedroom is a safe haven for sleep. It should be dark, quiet and cool. Invest in blackout curtains, an eye mask, and even earplugs if necessary. 
  • Address underlying stressors — If work or other commitments are constantly encroaching on your personal time, explore ways to manage them more effectively. Can you delegate tasks at work? Set clearer boundaries with family and friends? Prioritizing stress management techniques like exercise, mindfulness or spending time in nature can also help you unwind before bed. 
  • Schedule time for relaxation — Feeling like you don’t have enough time for yourself during the day is a major trigger for revenge bedtime procrastination. To help overcome this, prioritize your to-do list and schedule relaxation time into your daily routine. Embrace Executive Function skills to help you tackle your to-do list so you can enjoy your relaxation time.
  • Seek professional help — If you’ve tried these strategies and are still struggling with revenge bedtime procrastination or chronic sleep problems, consider seeking professional help. A therapist or sleep specialist can help you identify underlying issues and develop a personalized plan to help improve your sleep hygiene.


Beyond BookSmart can help you improve Executive Function to break free from bedtime procrastination 

We understand that life gets busy and overwhelming and it’s all too tempting to take revenge on your schedule by claiming control back over your day by staying up late. However, falling into this cycle can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. By recognizing the signs of revenge bedtime procrastination and implementing strategies, you can break the cycle and achieve a more restful night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep equips you to tackle your day with focus, energy, and a positive mood. 

Revenge bedtime procrastination can be the result of struggling with Executive Function skills. At Beyond BookSmart, we have Executive Function coaching services that can help you develop and improve the skills you need to effectively manage tasks and stressors at home, in school, and at work. By accomplishing tasks and scheduling time for relaxation, you can help prevent revenge bedtime procrastination. 

Executive Dysfunction refers to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral difficulties that can interfere with every facet of someone’s life, including their academic, professional, and personal lives. While Executive Dysfunction can affect everyone, it impacts up to 90% of those with ADHD.

Executive Function skills are coachable, trainable, and can be applied for success. Whether you have a learning difference, such as ADHD, an emotional challenge, such as anxiety, or just struggling to reach your Executive Function potential, Beyond BookSmart services can help you see what you’re capable of.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an inquiry call.

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