Why You Stay Up So Late, Even When You Know You Shouldn’t

Why You Stay Up So Late, Even When You Know You Shouldn’t

Do you often find yourself scrolling through social media late into the night, despite knowing you should be asleep? You’re not alone. This behaviour, known as “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination,” is more common than you might think and can significantly impact your sleep quality and overall health.

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

First coined in a 2014 Dutch study, bedtime procrastination is described as failing to go to bed at the intended time without external factors preventing it. The term gained traction during the pandemic, highlighting a widespread issue where individuals delay sleep as a form of “revenge” against daytime constraints.

The Psychology Behind It

Experts like Alessandra Edwards, a performance expert, and Floor Kroese, a behavioural scientist, link bedtime procrastination to a lack of control over daytime hours. This lack of control, especially prevalent in high-stress occupations, leads to a deliberate delay in sleep to reclaim personal time.

The Role of Personality and Self-Regulation

Kroese’s research points out that those with traits like impulsiveness or distractibility are more prone to sleep procrastination. This behaviour is not just about delaying sleep but also involves an emotional component where individuals process their day’s emotional backlog before sleeping.

Effective Strategies and Nighttime Habits to Combat Sleep Procrastination

  • The Power-Down Hour: Popularized by Michael Breus, “the Sleep Doctor,” this technique involves a structured hour before bed divided into tasks, hygiene, and relaxation activities. This structured approach helps in winding down and addressing tasks that might otherwise lead to procrastination.
  • If-Then Planning: Implementing an if-then plan (e.g., “If it’s 11 pm, then I will start my bedtime routine”) can help establish a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Improving Sleep Hygiene: Engaging in relaxing activities, dimming lights, and creating a distraction-free bedroom environment can significantly improve sleep quality.

Revenge bedtime procrastination is a modern phenomenon that reflects our struggle to balance day-to-day demands with personal time. By understanding its underlying causes and implementing effective strategies, we can improve our sleep hygiene and overall well-being.