Revenge Sleep Procrastination: What it is and How to Stop it

By Tatenda


Last Updated: August 23, 2022

Sometimes life gets so busy, and 24 hours we get in a day simply is not enough for us to do everything we need to do.

We often find ourselves with a long list of priorities, and sadly, in some cases, sleep is at the bottom of that list. Some may consider it a luxury, and rather than ‘wasting’ a lot of time sleeping, they would rather use that time to do other things that they weren’t able to do during the day. 

This is known as revenge sleep procrastination.



What is Revenge Sleep Procrastination?

The ‘revenge’ aspect refers to the notion that you will be taking ‘revenge’ on the daytime hours where you were preoccupied by taking some time for yourself and doing what you enjoy.

Because you don’t have much freedom during the day, you take control of your life late at night. In most cases, these ‘other things’ involve scrolling through social media and watching Netflix. Things that do not necessarily benefit us in comparison to sleep.

We end up stuck in a cycle of watching TikToks and Instagram reels until past midnight, have a few hours of sleep, wake up and go to work only to repeat everything at night again. 

The National Sleep Foundation defines revenge sleep/bedtime procrastination as,

“the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time.”

It happens because one feels like they do not have enough time during the day, so they compromise their sleep for personal time. 

The term is relatively new, so if you’re reading about it for the first time, don’t worry you are not behind. It was originally coined in China, but the English translation is being adopted and used globally. 

Revenge sleep procrastination is common among people who lead busy lives and are often stressed and burned out from work or family. Three factors determine revenge sleep procrastination, and these are: 

  1. Delaying going to sleep and consequently reducing the total sleep time for the night.
  2. Having no valid reason to stay up later than intended. And...
  3. Being aware that staying up late can have negative consequences. 



Ways Revenge Sleep Procrastination Can Affect Your Health

We live in a hyperconnected world, and sadly, we will do anything and everything possible to make sure that we get our daily dose of social media, even if it means disrupted sleeping patterns.  

Not getting sufficient sleep comes along with a number of consequences including:

  • Constantly feeling fatigued
  • Depression 
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor concentration
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor self regulation



How to Break the Revenge Sleep Procrastination Cycle

1. Get the most out of your day

We only get 24 hours every day. The good thing is no one gets more than the next person, we are all almost on the same page. So how do some get more done than others in that same period of time? 

Well, the main difference is in planning. 

  • Plan your day to every minute and stick to that schedule.
  • Do what you said you will do when you said you will do it.
  • Ensure that your day also has some activities that make you happy.
  • Schedule time for hanging out with your dog or for that yoga class you have been wanting to attend. 

Sticking to the schedule means at the end of the day you would have done much with minimal distractions, and you will be able to go to bed on time. 


2. Come up with a strict nighttime routine.

Stick to a specific bedtime and wake up around the same time every morning.

For instance, my night time routine involves me brushing my teeth, washing my face and applying whatever products I will be trying that month, planning my tasks for the following day and listening to bedtime meditation podcasts. Every morning, I try to wake up between 5:30 and 6 AM and head to the gym. 

Religiously following the routine that works for you will help you get enough sleep and wake up on time the following day. Ensure that the last hour of your day before bedtime is screen-free. This way, you don’t overstimulate your brain and slowly shut down for a good night. 


3. Use sleep timers.

On days where my self control is low, this is by far the most effective way to get me to leave my phone and go to bed. 

Most smartphones have sleep timers which when activated will turn off the phone, shut access to some applications or activate grayscale screen depending on your preferences. Using this timer means your phone will basically force you to log off for the day. 


4. Limit caffeine consumption.

Sometimes we need the caffeine boost but in some cases it does us more evil than good.

It takes our bodies about 10 hours to completely clear out caffeine from our systems. Because caffeine is a stimulant, that means in those 10 or so hours we will experience increased activity in the brain and nervous system. 

This can get in the way of an early night. Avoiding caffeine means when you want to sleep, you will easily fall asleep and you will also have a more peaceful night. 



You Can Overcome Revenge Sleep Procrastination. 

Occasionally catching up on your social media and your favorite shows at the end of the day is not a bad thing at all.

But when catching up at night becomes a habit, it can get in the way of your sleeping schedule meaning that you won’t be able to get the required amount of sleep leaving you sluggish, slow and exhausted. 

Thankfully, revenge sleep procrastination is not a sleep disorder. It is a behavior that can be rectified putting into practice the above mentioned practices such as sticking to a strict night time routine, planning your day and getting as much done as possible during the day and using sleep timers on your smartphone. 

Contrary to popular belief, your body cannot get used to just a few hours of rest every night. Recognize your mistakes, do the best you can and make sure you get the good quality sleep you deserve!

Photo by SHVETS production



2 comments on “Revenge Sleep Procrastination: What it is and How to Stop it”

  1. Now that I am old, I often stay up and do things I enjoy until daybreak. I see people going off to work and watch the sunrise:)
    I have always loved sleep amd never have any trouble nodding off. However,sometimes I do not get up until 1 or 2 pm.
    I am quite happy, as I am in a lot of pain after shingles last year left me with Peripheral Neuropathy in my necck and head area.
    The thing is, I am quite happy getting up and going to bed when I fancey. It is others who object to my "habits!"
    Should i care ? Not a jot! But I still long for more hours in my day/night 🙂

    1. Hi Elizabeth, we're sorry to hear about your health issues. And hey, if you are happy with your current routine, then stick with it! I don't stay up all night like you, but I find that the hours after everyone else is in bed and before they get up are the most peaceful and productive. Keep being you!! So happy to have you in the community. 🙂

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