Julia Ballerstadt

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: Why we keep going to bed late and what we can do about it

Don’t you get to bed before midnight every night? Do you swear to yourself every morning: “Tonight, but earlier.”? Then you might be suffering from Revenge Bedtime Procrastination.

It’s 10pm, you’re tired. Just enough tired to go to bed and get a relaxed eight hours of sleep before you can start the next day well rested. But it’s actually only 10 p.m…. There are easily two more episodes on Netflix by twelve. Or just surf the net a bit? Finally we need some new shoes, oh and that dress is so pretty too…bang, add it to the cart. Well, and while we’re here, let’s see what other nice things we can order. Whoops, almost one o’clock. But now to bed. Five hours of sleep should be enough. Going to bed really early tomorrow…

The eternal vicious circle of sleep procrastination

Our days are packed with appointments, after work we take care of shopping, homework, doctor’s appointments, hobbies and, of course, whoever has the children. For many, the end of the day really doesn’t start until around 9 p.m. And then of course you want to enjoy and relax a little bit. Unfortunately at the expense of our rest period. The result: the night is short, the stress the next day is all the greater because we are even more tired. According to National Geographic, who is particularly affected by bedtime procrastination has not yet been sufficiently researched, but interestingly, going to bed is mainly procrastinated by people who would have a lot of freedom of action at work – for example executives, managers, students and freelancers, explains Dr. Anna Höcker, coach, psychological psychotherapist and expert in stress management and work blocks to National Geographic.

Reasons for Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

It’s mostly about the feeling of catching up on free time in the evening and at night that you didn’t have during the day. A feeling that parents in particular know very well, who only have their self-determined time when the kids have disappeared into their beds. The only problem is that time is perceived as too valuable to be “wasted” on sleeping, but at the same time there is no longer any energy left to make it really useful. Often you just get stuck in social media and the TV program and what was intended as a short-term reward after a hard day quickly becomes a waste of several hours of time unnoticed. “This happens, absurdly, especially when we’re already tired or stressed from the day or have experienced a lot of frustration – then cognitive control decreases and it’s harder for us to regulate ourselves,” says Dr. Anna Hoecker.

And then one thing leads to another…

Too little sleep leads to even more stress, a bad conscience and self-reproach. We can’t concentrate as well, we may have headaches, we’re more irritable and impatient. “What’s particularly common is that sleep-deprived people who are overtired during the day tend to have poorer self-control, which in turn can lead to generalized procrastination and worsened other health behaviors.” Logically: “Anyone who is overtired and exhausted will be less able to rouse themselves to take care of training, exercise or healthy eating.” In addition, too little sleep leads to the release of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin and can lead to cravings and unregulated eating.

How do you get out of bedtime procrastination?

1. More downtime during the day

If we have the feeling that we don’t experience enough downtime and relaxation during the day that we have to make up for in the evening, we can try to incorporate a little more of it into our everyday life. For example, the lunch break can be used for a walk, or you can plan short breaks at regular intervals that you design for yourself. We should also check our to-do list more often for its importance, not everything has to be done immediately.

2. Establish new habits

When would I like to lie in bed? We should answer this question and set an alarm clock for it. When the bell rings, it’s off to bed. Or we treat ourselves to an episode of our favorite series and then consistently switch off when we usually get stuck in front of it. After about three weeks it becomes a habit.

3. Journaling

Still brooding in the evening? Then it helps to write down your thoughts for 10 minutes before going to bed. This can also happen totally unfiltered and does not have to be easy to read. The main thing is to get out of your head.

4. Consciously pay attention to signs of fatigue

Our body actually says pretty much exactly what it needs – even when it wants to sleep. We just learned to ignore our body feeling. But the good thing is: we can also learn it again. Just pay attention to what your body is telling you and go to bed when you start to feel tired.

5. Clarify the benefits of sleep

And these are just a few: regeneration, anti-aging, recovery, relaxation, performance… It pays to get enough sleep!

6. Work out a sleep routine

Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep. To find out how much you need, you can experiment a little and work out your own sleep routine.

7. Ban cell phones from bedrooms

If you still spend a lot of time on social media in bed, it helps to put your smartphone aside half an hour before you plan to go to bed or to ban it completely from the bedroom. An analogue alarm clock is then a good investment.

No panic

In principle, of course, it is not tragic if we go to bed too late. But if the level of suffering increases because we don’t sleep enough, it makes sense, of course, to take a look at what we do with our time in the evening. However, if procrastination becomes chronic or excessive, the psychological and physical pressure increases and you are unsure whether the procrastination is the root of deeper problems, an appointment with a psychotherapist makes a lot of sense.

Sources: National Geographic, Business Insider

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