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3 Ways to Beat Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

August 21, 2023

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: Is it Time to Rescue Your Sleep and Reclaim Your Energy?

Ever heard of “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination”? Curious about how to defeat this sneaky habit and finally reclaim your nights? Join us in Episode 188 of It’s About Time as we dive into this phenomenon, its effects, and three actionable strategies to take back your nights.

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Revenge bedtime procrastination

Hey friends, and welcome to Episode 188 of It’s About Time!

Revenge is a dish best served cold. 

Success is the sweetest revenge. 

Don’t get mad, get even. 

ok – not that kind of revenge, you know the kind of revenge Taylor Swift sings about on half of her albums… which by the way is completely fine with me, I love some Taylor Swift revenge songs… but instead I want to dive into a type of revenge I recently learned about, that I didn’t even realize I was doing. 

It’s been keeping me up at night, and totally messing with how I feel the next day. 

It’s called Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, and I’ll bet you’ve done it too. 

Never heard of it? Not sure what I’m talking about? Get ready, because in today’s episode we’re talking about

  • What exactly Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is, and how to know if you’re doing it
  • How Revenge Bedtime Procrastination wreaks havoc on our health, wellness and decision-making skills
  • 3 simple ways that you can beat Revenge Bedtime Procrastination and get a good night’s sleep
  • What to do next time you’re tempted to stay up past your bedtime just to get in some “Me Time”

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination. What exactly is it? What does it mean, and what does it look like?

WebMD describes revenge bedtime procrastination, or simply sleep procrastination, as staying up late for some “me” time, instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour. 

Essentially, you’re getting “revenge” on your busy daytime schedule, filled with doing things for other people instead of yourself – by fitting in some leisure time at the expense of getting rest. 

So imagine this – and it probably won’t take much for you to imagine this, because it’s a pretty common occurrence for busy professionals – especially parents. 

But – imagine this – you’ve spent your entire day doing things for other people. You wake up, you get ready for work, maybe you’re getting the kids up and out the door to school or daycare. You get to work, and immediately you’re digging yourself out from under an avalanche of emails, slack messages, requests and you’re heading in and out of meetings while also trying to get work done. You eat a quick lunch at your desk, and at the end of the day, you wrap up work with plenty of things left on your to-do list, but you’ll just push them to tomorrow. 

You pick up the kids, or you head home. Maybe you’ve got volunteer meetings in the evening, or maybe you’re catching up on work you didn’t finish. Maybe you’re taking the kids to activities – dance practice, sports practice, and then launching into the evening routine of dinner, clean up, baths and bedtime. By the time you finally walk out of your kids room (I’m looking at you Toddler moms) it’s 9PM or later.

So even though you know you should do your skincare routine and go to sleep, you’ve spent the entire day doing absolutely nothing for yourself, so you grab your phone and watch TikToks for an hour or two, or you watch an episode or two of your favorite show, or you read for a bit. Either way, you’re staying up late, even though you know you should go to bed so you can FINALLY do something that YOU want to do. Something for yourself. 

Sound familiar? That’s exactly what Revenge Bedtime Procrastination looks like.

If it does – you’re not alone. Revenge Bedtime Procrastination isn’t a new thing, but the phrase has gained traction across the world in response to the stress we all felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As you can imagine, Revenge Bedtime Procrastination has a lot of negative impacts

The most obvious negative impact of RBP is sleep deprivation. The CDC recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and many of us really need closer to 8 or 9 in order to feel rested. 

Not getting enough sleep impacts our decision-making ability, it impacts our thinking and makes us feel like we have brain fog, and it even affects our memory. Plus, driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Oh – and let’s not forget that being sleepy also makes us irritable, cranky and prolonged sleep deprivation has been connected to depression and anxiety. 

Basically, Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is a result of a stressful day. And it’s a cycle. You have a stressful day without enough time to yourself, so you stay up late to try and make up for it. Then you don’t get enough sleep, which makes you irritable and leads to another stressful day. 

Fortunately, you can break the cycle and take back your days so you can take back your evenings, get some me time, get enough sleep and feel good the next day. 

Here are three strategies you can try to stop the cycle of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination. 

First Strategy

First, schedule some Me-Time for yourself during the day.

And maybe at first glance this seems impossible. If you had Me Time during the day, you’d already be using it, right? Well – sometimes your opportunities for Me Time aren’t super obvious. The thing is – “Me Time” isn’t going to magically appear on your calendar for you. YOU have to decide you want it there, and you have to decide when. THEN you have to decide to stick to it, which can feel daunting when you’ve got requests for your time coming from all angles during the day. 

I’ve felt that way recently, and realized that I was staying up too late at night, and it was impacting my ability to get up and get to the gym. And when I skip the gym, I just don’t feel as energized. 

So Katie Escobar, a holistic nutrition coach that I’m working with through Kristen Nash’s Revive Your Hormones program – I’ll link Katie and Kristen for you in the shownotes so you can check them out. Katie challenged me to find two breaks during my work day to do something just for me – a 5 minute break, and a 20 minute break. 

And, I’ve found that when you don’t have a plan for how you’ll spend your break, you’ll either skip it, or you’ll just scroll instagram – and then it doesn’t even feel like a true, fulfilling “me time” kinda break. 

So Katie challenged me to make a list of a few things I could do in 5 minutes, and a few things I could do in 20 minutes. Things like taking a walk, doing some stretches, watching a YouTube video from one of my favorite creators – I’m obsessed with Disney Food Blog by the way. 

And then, every morning, I have a reminder that pops up that says “Block your 5 and 20.” 

Planning my Me Time breaks during the work day makes me feel like I’m taking back part of my day for ME instead of giving my whole entire work day to everyone else. 

So I encourage you to try something similar. Instead of just randomly taking breaks during the day, and then using those breaks to scroll social media – how can you reframe your breaks as intentional Me Time? 

When you have intentional time for yourself during the day, you’ll end your day feeling a bit more fulfilled, and you’ll be less likely to stay up late trying to catch up on that Me Time you missed during the day. 

Second Strategy

The second strategy is to rearrange your evening routine to create more time for yourself before bed, so you can have some time for yourself and still get to bed on time. 

Is there anything you’re currently doing in the evening that can be done at a different time of day? Or is there anything you’re doing in the evening that could be batched one day a week? I encourage you to get creative and see what you can move and shuffle around. Just because you’ve always done your evenings one way doesn’t mean you can’t reimagine and rearrange how you spend your time. 

One thing that’s been helpful at our house is alternating certain evening responsibilities with my husband. We take turns reading bedtime stories and laying with the girls until they fall asleep. Now – I don’t want to open up a whole can of worms about toddler sleep strategies, we’re doing our best over here. But trust me, as much as I love sweet snuggles with my 4 and 2 year old girls, I would love to kiss them on the forehead, say sweet dreams and walk out of the room – but that’s just not what life looks like for us right now. 

Sometimes the parent in charge of bedtime stories kicks off the first story around 7:45, and doesn’t leave the room until after 9PM. The entire evening is basically gone. 

But since we alternate, I can count on having a few evenings a week to myself. And on those evenings, I plan in advance to soak in the tub or watch a favorite show while Scott is with the girls. 

Knowing that I have those nights a few nights a week makes the evenings that I don’t make it out of their room until after 9 just a little easier to deal with. 

So, I’d ask you – what can you rearrange or alternate with someone else – in order to create a more predictable “Me Time” for yourself in the evening. 

Third Strategy

Alright – last strategy – and you know what? This one is giving into the fact that sometimes you just need to stay up late and get in that Me Time so you don’t totally explode. But some forms of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination are better, and healthier than others. 

So, choose some low-tech ways to wind down. We’ve all been told a million times by now that the blue light from our devices impacts our ability to sleep, so if you’re going to stay up late, consider reading an actual book made of paper, or an e-reader that isn’t backlit. I have a Kindle Paperwhite, and I love it. 

Instead of watching a high stress TV show before bed, consider watching something a bit more chill. My husband tried to get me to watch the first season of The Bear with him – if you haven’t seen it, it’s set in a restaurant kitchen and it’s very intense and seriously gave me anxiety before bed. I couldn’t handle it. I had to ask him to watch it another time so I could relax. 

You could also color in a coloring book, draw,  journal – there are so many things you can do besides scrolling social media or playing games on your phone that help you ease into a good nights’ sleep but still give you an opportunity to have some time just for you. 

So there you have it.

You can stop the cycle of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination and get some Me Time for yourself during the day. If you’ve stayed up past your bedtime and felt the negative effects the next day, here’s a quick recap of those three tips

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