Have you ever wondered, “why do I not want to sleep even though I’m tired?”
Think about your bedtime routine.
Do you have one?
Do you feel like you need to stay up late to get things done? Maybe your ADHD has impacted your work, and you feel like you need to stay up late in order to make up for what you didn’t get done during the day...?
Maybe you’re a stay at home parent, you finally got the kids to bed, and now that it’s your “me time,” you don’t want to give it up by going to bed?
One of the newer terms I’ve been seeing online recently is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination. It’s been coming up so much in my coaching sessions I decided to do a little research. Once I understood it, I realized I struggle with this too!
Let’s talk about it.
Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, also called Sleep Procrastination or Bedtime Procrastination, is not a new concept. Defined by the Sleep Foundation as “the decision to delay sleep in response to stress or a lack of free time earlier in the day,”
Fun Fact: According to the Sleep Foundation, the “revenge” part of the term revenge bedtime procrastination first became popular on social media as part of a translation of a Chinese expression conveying the frustration of working long, stressful hours with little time left for personal enjoyment. Thus, bedtime procrastination is seen as a way of getting “revenge” on daytime hours.
When you are used to doing things for everyone else all day, you may find when that you finally get a break at night, you’re tempted to extend that ‘me time’ into the wee hours of the morning. Sleep procrastination is especially tempting for those who experience particularly stressful days; being a parent, working long hours, dealing with health issues, etc. can all leave little room for relaxation, so it’s natural to want to prolong any little bit of free time you can find - even if it cuts into other things.
If you’ve been engaging in sleep procrastination, you probably know it. You might read your book, scroll social media, watch tv, etc, way past the time you meant to go to bed. It may be hard to set boundaries and limits to still go to bed at a decent time.
I find myself thinking, “this is the last episode I’ll watch, then I’ll go to bed.” However, the episode ends on a cliffhanger and I want to know what happens next! The same thing happens with reading books, or doom-scrolling on your phone. You may look up and suddenly, it’s 1 AM, and you’ve been scrolling for hours. Oops!
A decrease in sleep can lead to other difficulties, so it’s important to still get a good amount of sleep each night. If bedtime procrastination is a frequent habit, you may end up with sleep deprivation. Some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is still pretty new, so there isn’t a lot of scientific or psychological information on it. One interesting study indicated students and women participated in this procrastination the most. They also found that those who procrastinate in other areas your life were more likely to also procrastinate at bedtime.
Sleep procrastination isn’t just an ADHD thing; but, those of us with ADHD may engage in it more often than neurotypical peers. It’s not clear why, yet. One possible explanation is our challenges with response inhibition (aka, self-control). Impulsivity is a common ADHD symptom. Add to that the fact that our capacity for self-control is already at its lowest at the end of the day when we’re drained from using all our executive function power at work, school, or on parenting, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for sleep avoidance.
Procrastination (of any flavor) and ADHD often go hand in hand, so being mindful of when you’re procrastinating, and what is behind it, is important. Here are some steps to identify and manage your sleep procrastination:
Revenge bedtime procrastination can be such a hard habit to break. Focusing on getting a good amount of sleep each night, focus on routines and structure, and finding time in your day for self-care and “me time” can help get past the feeling of needing/wanting to stay up later - and yet, these are all things people with ADHD tend to struggle with. If you need some help, check out Shimmer ADHD coaching. A coach can help you identify all those challenges and barriers contributing to sleep procrastination, as well as ways to overcome them that work for your brain and life. Getting good sleep can help you start again tomorrow!