Tips For Better Sleep

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: The Habit That Keeps Us Awake Late At Night

November 18, 2022   By Clarisa Mcdonald

Isn’t it ironic? Long work days, busy school days, or days full of children drain us of time and energy. Anyone would expect that we’d jump at the opportunity to get enough sleep for the next day, but no. 

At night, our brains suddenly wake up with full attention after sleeping on us for the entire day. They then whisper: won’t it be sweet to stay up and binge a Netflix series, keep scrolling through social media, chat with friends, or play a video game? Even though our eyes are sore, we listen and make up for it by complaining “I’m so tired” the following morning. We all turn into night owls with our sleep schedules but unlike our late-night bird friends, we don’t get the same good quality sleep as they do since we’re designed to be awake during the day.

Whoever said the phrase “sleep is for the weak” definitely knew nothing of today’s generation of exhausted people who willingly sacrifice a good night’s sleep for entertainment well into the night.

The Desire to Stay up All Night

Our team here at Ecosa fully understands this phenomenon and has experienced it ourselves now and again. It’s the allure of staying up and having that chill time, especially if you’ve been out and about all day without alone time. 

Work, studies, or children often take over our lives, so it’s only natural to want some personal time. So, you stay awake past midnight, sacrificing proper sleeping habits to have some fun.

The Internet has now dubbed this “revenge bedtime procrastination” or “retaliatory staying up late”. Yep, we were pretty surprised to find that there was a name for it. 

“Revenge” refers to taking back the hours you lose from work, commuting or anything you need to do versus what you want to do. By staying up late, you’re claiming back the time taken away from you. 

Where It All Started

The BBC noted that the term made its first rounds in China as “報復性熬夜”. Journalist Daphne K. Lee tweeted about it and translated it into English as “revenge bedtime procrastination”. In the year since the tweet, more than 200,000 have reacted to it, and almost 90,000 have retweeted it. From there, the term spread further through TikTok.

Show the Results

Although the term may be relatively recent, the habit has been around for years. As technology progressed, people have been able to accomplish much in short amounts of time. Instead of making modern life more comfortable, however, the demand for results has only increased. We are “switched on” all the time, barely taking time away from our phones or computers. As a consequence, an individual today exercises little to no control over their daytime life, fuelling the desire to stay up late and sacrificing healthy sleep for the dopamine rush of late-night activities.

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The lack of control may also be traced to less detachment from responsibilities and leisure. Workdays may feel longer since bosses and co-workers are an instant message away, with many expecting you to have notifications on at all times. And in the cases of many workaholics today, they feel obliged to read their emails than to get some shut-eye

Besides, parents have to take care of their children and each other after work. By bedtime, the question between free time and sleep presents itself, and people often pick their free time, leading to intentional sleep deprivation.

No More Boundaries

With the changes brought about by the pandemic and the move to many people working from home, the separation between responsibilities has blurred even more. The home has become the workplace and the classroom, and some people have drastically altered their sleep patterns, staying up later into the night and waking up at noon. It has become a vicious cycle that has affected the wellness and well-being of many. Bedtime routines and work often mix up, especially for those who work in their bedrooms. You can sometimes find yourself working during your supposed hours of sleep, or on the other hand, taking naps during your work hours.

As amusing and gratifying revenge bedtime procrastination may be, the practice has a negative effect on our health due to lack of sleep. You may feel more depressed, sick, and hot-tempered, and have a vast slew of other adverse effects every single day. So, how can you break the cycle of revenge? And how do you sleep better for your physical health’s sake?

Struggling without Sleep

The answer sits before your eyes: sleep. Enough z’s can work wonders for your mental health and your body. Of course, you already know this, but you may find the urge to stay up stronger than your need for sleep. 

Try changing your habits and making sleep an activity that you look forward to. When sleep becomes a pleasurable activity rather than an obstacle, you will find yourself sleeping rather than clicking the “Next Episode” prompt on Netflix.

Begin respecting your sleep time, and observe your health getting better and your energy levels getting higher throughout the day. With good sleep hygiene, you can get rid of pulling all-nighters and you can appreciate the early morning hours much better.

Check Out: What Is Sleep Hygiene and Why Is It So Important?

Designate Spaces for Chill Time

You can make sleep even more appealing by setting up boundaries. Even when you are at home, boundaries can still be made. When you have children, designate a place where they can have school and play. You can also dedicate a table for work or study. 

When you want to surf the web, scroll through social media, or have some leisure time, create a space for that too. With these spaces, you end up keeping your bed as an area for sleeping alone. This can be tricky in smaller homes, but try to avoid your bed for anything except sleep. 

For sound sleep, ensure that your area doesn’t have bright light sources, is free from noise and distractions and with a cool and comfortable temperature. These are the best ways for you to develop your body clock to understand when to sleep and when to be awake.

Switch off from Social Media

When you finally have your chill-out time, maybe try something that gives you a stronger feeling of satisfaction. Scrolling endlessly through social media or mindlessly watching Netflix might feel good, but it only gives you shorter forms of pleasure. That’s why you always feel the need for more of it. Likewise, the blue light exposure you get from the displays of your devices prevents the secretion of melatonin which can negatively affect your body’s circadian rhythm.

Read more on the effects of blue light here.

Try another activity such as reading, journaling or playing a game with a friend or partner. These activities work your brain more and give you substantial levels of satisfaction, even if you don’t end up spending hours on them. This will help you sleep better because you will feel that you have made use of your day. In turn, you will be more refreshed, enough to jump headfirst into work, studies, or family life.

Break the Revenge Cycle

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a toxic habit that hopefully doesn’t stick around for too long. At some point, all of us will have to return to normal sleep patterns for the sake of our health and survival. 

Maybe it’s a sign to make some changes in your life if you find the only time you have for yourself is when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Carve out time for yourself, find joy in the ordinary things and hey, maybe it’s time for a career change if it’s your job giving you strife.

Even better, although it may not be instant, we will also feel happier in the long run. The high quality of life that we often seek will only be discovered when we choose to sleep and sleep the right way.

Check out: How To Fall Asleep Fast: Our Top 10 Tips That Work

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