Social media platforms introduced us to the new term "revenge sleep". As a psychology term, it isn't an official diagnosis, but we see that it is a real issue people face. We have been surprised at how many of our clients are engaging in "revenge sleep" without even realizing it!
After I had my baby, whom I love very much, I found that my free time just disappeared. Although I loved being a mother and enjoyed my precious little baby, I suddenly found that I didn't have time for myself.
All day long, my efforts and attention were either focused on caring for my child (feeding him, changing him, playing with him, reading to him, taking him for walks, etc.), caring for my family (cleaning, making dinner, arranging medical appointments, grocery shopping, etc. ), or working (answering emails, conducting employee training and onboarding, recruiting, writing policies, etc.).
As a result, I stayed up until 2 or 3 am after my kiddo fell asleep so that I could make art, read a book, or watch my favorite show for myself.
It was unhealthy for me. I knew it. Even though I knew I wasn't getting enough sleep, I also felt like I needed that time for myself. So I became aware of the concept of "revenge bedtime procrastination." - Kari Turner
When you sacrifice sleep for leisure time because your daily schedule leaves you little free time, you are committing revenge sleep.
When people have stressful jobs that consume the majority of their day, revenge sleep is a way to find some entertainment even though it leads to inadequate sleep. (What mom doesn't go through this? We all do!)
Despite the temptation of revenge bedtime procrastination, sleep deprivation caused by late nights and early mornings can be serious. In the short- and long-term, sleep deprivation can have significant negative effects on mental, physical, and emotional health.
There are different forms of sleep revenge. Bedtime procrastination involves delaying getting into bed. In-bed procrastination is also a problem that has been associated with using electronics in bed, delaying the time needed to fall asleep once in bed. In this sense, bedtime procrastination is considered "revenge" for little to no free time during the day.COVID-19-induced stress has increased this idea's traction around the globe.
What Psychology is Behind Bedtime Procrastination?
Sleep deprivation is characterized by the knowledge and desire for enough sleep, but the failure to obtain it.
Self-control is already at its lowest point at the end of the day, which may contribute to sleep procrastination. The demands of daytime work or school may reduce the reserves of self-control available at night. We also have those of us who struggle with procrastination in general. Procrastination may run in some people's veins, including around bedtime.
Sleep revenge may not only be caused by procrastination or a lack of self-control. "Night owls" are people with chronotypes who do their best work at night. Schedules designed for "early birds" are often forced upon them, even if these do not fit their natural body rhythms. A culture that doesn't align with their biological needs may be causing them to try to carve out a place for themselves. Revenge sleep may not be a lack of self-control or a tendency to procrastinate, but rather an attempt to recover from the day's stresses.
Research on sleep procrastination is still in its early stages, so experts aren't certain who is most affected. However, one study found that women and students were most likely to procrastinate before bed. Those with an evening chronotype tend to stay up later, which may manifest as procrastination at bedtime. People who procrastinate in other areas of their lives also tend to procrastinate in sleep.
Consequences of Revenge Sleep
Insufficient sleep can negatively affect the mind and body, resulting in widespread negative health effects. A lack of sleep affects one's ability to think, remember, and make decisions. In addition to raising the risk of drowsy driving, sleep deprivation increases the risk of daytime sleepiness, which can negatively impact academic achievement and productivity.
Depriving oneself of sleep is associated with decreased self-regulation and impulse control, so sleep procrastination may become part of a cycle of reduced sleep and poor health.
There is a link between irritability and lack of sleep, as well as our ability to regulate our emotions. Anxiety and depression have also been linked to it. Physical health is compromised by sleep deprivation, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes. It can be very difficult to recover from sleep loss.Continual sleep loss can also lead to significant health problems over time. Thankfully, getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night is an easy way to avoid all these issues - unless you're a parent of a newborn baby!
How To Prevent Sleep Procrastination
Healthy sleep hygiene is the best remedy for sleep procrastination. To achieve this, you need to develop good sleep habits and create a sleep-friendly environment. A good sleep habit won't be achieved in one night. It takes practice and time to develop healthy habits.
It is possible for behaviors to feel almost automatic when you have set routines in place. As a result, a nighttime routine reduces the temptation to stay up later than necessary.
Examples of positive sleep habits include:
Maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, even on non-working days
Avoiding alcohol or caffeine after 4 p.m.
Before going to bed, turn off all electronic devices, including cell phones and tablets, for at least half an hour, and ideally more
Establishing a bedtime routine that you follow every night
You can ease yourself into sleep by reading a book, meditating, or gently stretching before bed. It may also be beneficial to use relaxation techniques to reduce the stress that may contribute to revenge procrastination during bedtime.
Sleeping in a dark, quiet bedroom with comfortable bedding and mattresses can also make going to sleep more appealing.You may be able to counteract sleep loss by creating an inviting sleep space. Interested in Hygge bedtime routines? Check them out here!
In the event that you are experiencing sleep problems that are causing daytime sleepiness, consult a doctor who can assess your sleep habits, determine if you are suffering from a sleep disorder, and create a plan to help you sleep better. Our clinicians are also available to help you establish healthier habits and get that sleep back during a free consultation.