What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

How to Stop Sleep Procrastination with Adult ADHD

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.

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

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.

What are Revenge Bedtime Procrastination Symptoms?

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:

  • Slower thinking
  • Challenges with focus and attention
  • Memory issues
  • Challenges with decision making
  • Stress, anxiety, and irritation
  • Depression
  • Health issues like heart disease, diabetes, hormone-related issues, and weakened immune system
  • Chronic pain and/or fatigue

What Does the Research Say?

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.

Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination a Symptom of ADHD?

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.

How Do I Fix My Sleep Procrastination?

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:

  1. Check on your sleep hygiene. That includes both environmental and behavioral factors - things like making sure your room is dark and distraction-free, reducing screen time, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day… identify any sleep hygiene challenges that make going to bed more difficult.
  2. Replace screen time. “But you already mentioned screen time in step one!” Yes, I did. But, it’s worth mentioning again. When we’re talking about revenge bedtime procrastination, we’re often dealing with things that are very engaging and difficult to pull away from. Many of those involve screens. So, find non-screen-dependent activities you can do instead.
  3. Find more “Me Time” during the day. Even 10 minutes can help. While sleep hygiene and routines are important, they don’t address the root of the problem - this step does. In order to stop feeling the NEED for “revenge,” it’s necessary to feel like you have time to yourself, doing things you enjoy, so you don’t have to stay up late to do so.
  4. Plan for tomorrow. Need more ideas on how to spend before-bed time not on screens? Planning your day the night before can help decrease nighttime anxiety spiraling, and can help with feeling accomplished and prepared - which are very helpful feelings to have when you’re trying to relax enough for sleep. You can plan your meals, your outfit, write a to-do list, or even just a brain dump.

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination (Closing Thoughts)

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!


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