The term ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ may be new, but this habit of purposeful delay of sleep, to carve some ‘me’ time for yourself has always existed. This is especially true with the boom in technology and the rise of so many social media platforms. It's like you are taking revenge for not having time for yourself during the day by fitting in leisure time in the evening or night. However, it comes at the expense of sleep. Unfortunately, this mostly means spending time on social media and doom scrolling. Late-night scrolling and gadgets are some of the main reasons why most people are sleep deprived today, because not only does light interfere with sleep, it also stimulates our minds.
Causes and signs of revenge bedtime procrastination
Human beings are the only species who sacrifice sleep to fulfil their personal, professional, or social interests. Because sleep is free, we take it for granted till we are chronically deprived of it, and then our body starts to show symptoms. Social media and the internet today have portrayed a different story of success due to which most believe that to be successful you have to sacrifice sleep. But that is wrong. There is no recipe to success without good health. Another reason is that since the pandemic, the lines between personal and professional lives have got blurred.
While most people blame the pandemic for this, the truth we have to accept is that no amount of blaming will help improve this till we take personal responsibility, set boundaries in our work-life, maintain a proper schedule and follow it with discipline. Using social media as an excuse for recreation to the point it’s harming our own self is like self-sabotage. Use social media if you want to, but responsibly.
This also happens when you do not have a solid bedtime ritual which is a powerful way to disconnect yourself from the daytime chaos. A lack of structure in your evening routine can make it easy for you to resort to social media and other unhealthy activities to relax. You can instead create a soothing ritual for yourself—a warm bath, praying, journaling, spending time with family, making love, meditation—which are not only powerful sleep promoters but also help you truly relax.
The impact of revenge bedtime procrastination on our body and mind
This condition has a direct effect on sleep, and a lack of slumber has a direct as well as indirect effect on our body and mind. There is scientific research backing this up too. Sleep deprivation is one of the definite root causes of most illnesses today, from low immunity to obesity, high blood pressure, mismanaged blood sugar levels, low emotional resilience, weak memory, accelerated ageing, hormonal imbalances, and even cancer. Although diseases are multifactorial, sleep deprivation is one main factor. And unfortunately, there is no replacement or alternative to sleep. Sleep is where the real magic takes place in terms of healing and recovery.
Ways to cope with it
1. Self-control: Out of all the multitude of coping mechanisms, first comes self-discipline. We are always going to be surrounded by distractions in some way or the other, but it is our self-discipline that can rescue us from getting sucked into these distractions. Even if one wishes to access social media after work hours, it is recommended that they do so with an intention. Without setting an intention behind logging on to social media, we will always end up mindlessly scrolling and that will eat up our precious time that should be invested in sleep.
2. Time Management: Time flies and days turn into evenings and nights even before we realise it. It is thus necessary to budget time well and have a proper plan in place to manage it. When we do that, we gain the ability to run the day, instead of the day running us. I always encourage people to take out 8 hours from their 24 hours of the day for sleep, since that is non-negotiable, and then plan their day from the remaining 18 hours. In that they could plan, work, enjoy personal and family time and exercise so that sleep never bears the brunt.
3. Prioritising self-time through proper planning: It's important to plan your day in such a way that you do not leave time for yourself towards the end of the day. Our daily calendar must schedule time for self too, so we do not eat up our time meant for sleeping. Time for self is as important as work, workouts, and household chores.
When to consult an expert?
Mostly when people apply and practice discipline and time management, it becomes easy to handle bedtime revenge procrastination. However not many can practice discipline and hence look for complicated solutions. The solution however could be simple. Having said that, if one feels that they have tried enough and yet are not able to handle this and it's affecting their day-to-day life, they can consult a life coach who can help them handle this better. In extreme cases, one might also need to take sessions with a psychologist.
Ultimately, it's all about taking time out for yourself throughout the day, so you are not cramming it in and declining sleep. Your mind and body will thank you when your head can just hit the pillow at a reasonable time.