Why Do We Stay Up Even When We’re Sleepy?

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We all skimp on our sleep. This phenomenon, which has come to be called bedtime revenge procrastination, is when we sacrifice sleep for a few more hours of leisure time. However, with busy schedules, this lack of sleep may be negatively affecting our health.

Have you ever been very tired and sleepy, but instead of laying down, you find yourself spending those hours on unproductive activities late into the night? This is known as bedtime revenge procrastination.

There is a very good reason why this happens. In a fast-paced world where we have little freedom over our schedules, we crave and cherish personal time. The only time that’s available for many of us is at night. We skimp on sleep to get a few hours of uninhibited freedom.

What’s driving this behavior?


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What Is Bedtime Revenge Procrastination?

Bedtime revenge procrastination is when we intentionally delay sleep as a means of reclaiming our personal time.

We’re all trying to take back control of our schedules, and there’s a good reason for that. We yearn for autonomy in our lives, wanting to call the shots on how we spend our time.

Our generation faces unique challenges that fuel this desire. Many of us are caught up in the never-ending cycle of work, trying to balance being parents while holding down full-time jobs, or even juggling the pressures of college inc combination with a work schedule. It’s a lot to handle, and it creates that feeling of being stressed, which always seem to linger in the background.

In response, we seek out moments of freedom, even if it means sacrificing our sleep.

There are several psychological factors that contribute to bedtime revenge procrastination. Some of them are stress, anxiety, and wanting to engage in escapism. As stress levels increase, we seek temporary distractions. One study indicated a relationship between stress and engaging in procrastination behavior, including bedtime revenge procrastination. This means that as stress levels increase, so does the tendency to engage in bedtime procrastination.

The consequences of bedtime revenge procrastination are far-reaching. Because we are consistently sacrificing sleep, it disrupts our sleep patterns, the quality of sleep we get, and can have several negative effects on our well-being. Research reveals that inadequate sleep and low-quality sleep can lead to generalized anxiety, depression, low immunity, mood disturbances like anger outbursts, and overall low mental health hygiene.

Also Read: Why Do We Sometimes Feel Tired All Day, But Wired At Night?

What Does Bedtime Revenge Procrastination Look Like?

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The increasing use of smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices has led to an increase in bedtime revenge procrastination. (Photo Credit : Micah Watson/Shutterstock)

We’re all hooked onto our smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs and other electronic device.  These have greatly aided our ability to pursue bedtime revenge procrastination.

The constant connectivity and availability of digital entertainment easily traps people in a loop of late-night scrolling or binge-watching. Research has found that excessive screen time before bed can disrupt one’s sleeping patterns. It can also lead to delayed sleep onset and can negatively impact your quality of sleep.

This is why setting boundaries with technology and ensuring a device-free zone in the bedroom is known to address chronic sleep issues.

Also Read: Why Should You Never Use Your Phone Before Going To Sleep

Bedtime Revenge Procrastination, Productivity, And The Importance Of Prioritizing Sleep

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Lack of sleep not only compromises your immunity and mental health, but also your productivity. (Photo Credit : Heri Yusuf/Shutterstock)

Beyond immunity and mental health, sleep deprivation also impacts your productivity. Don’t believe those motivational blogs that talk about sacrificing sleep to increase productivity. In this matter, hustle culture is wrong.

Inadequate sleep can impair decision-making, problem-solving, and attention, claims that are backed up by research. Prioritizing sleep can enhance productivity and improve your cognitive abilities.

Prioritizing sleep is crucial for our overall well-being. A good night of sleep allows the body to recharge, repair, and optimize our physiological processes. It can increase our concentration and memory, boost our immunity, and also lead to emotional well-being.

A study conducted in 2014 revealed a moderate correlation between general procrastination and engaging in revenge bedtime procrastination. Traits commonly associated with procrastination, such as perfectionism, impulsivity, and low levels of conscientiousness, may be observed in individuals who exhibit this behavior.

Let’s consider the example of Jane, a working professional who often used to fall victim to bedtime revenge procrastination. She would stay up late watching TV shows, believing it was her only time for leisure. However, after recognizing the toll it took on her well-being, she committed to making a change. Jane established a consistent sleep schedule, implemented a relaxing bedtime routine, and consciously reduced screen time before bed. As a result, she experienced improved sleep quality, increased daytime energy, and enhanced overall productivity.

A recent study found that the above scenario had some credence.

The researchers delved into the phenomenon of bedtime procrastination and its impact on sleep quality. Their goal was to uncover effective strategies to tackle this behavior, with a specific focus on the role of mindfulness. The study involved 220 participants aged 17 to 30, who completed various questionnaires pertaining to mindfulness, boredom, bedtime procrastination, and sleep quality.

The outcomes of the study lent support to the researchers’ initial hypothesis, revealing an interesting pattern known as a serial mediation model.

Essentially, the link between mindfulness and improved sleep quality was found to be influenced by two key factors: decreased levels of boredom and reduced instances of bedtime procrastination. These findings underscore the significance of practicing mindfulness as a means of combating bedtime procrastination and its adverse effects on sleep. By adopting mindfulness techniques and actively working to reduce bedtime procrastination, individuals may find themselves experiencing better sleep and overall well-being.

How To Improve Sleep Quality?

World sleep day
To escape the clutches of bedtime revenge procrastination, it is crucial to create a sleep-friendly environment. (Photo Credit : xiaobaiv/Shutterstock)

To escape the clutches of bedtime revenge procrastination, it is crucial to create a sleep-friendly environment. To do this, ensure that you keep all technological devices away from your bed.

Create a routine to not check your phone starting at least an hour before you plan to sleep.

Try to set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promote better sleep quality.

Lastly, prioritize relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, in order to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm before bedtime.

Bedtime revenge procrastination may provide fleeting moments of personal time, but the long-term consequences on sleep and overall well-being are significant. By understanding the impact of chronic sleep deprivation, setting boundaries with technology, and implementing relaxation techniques to create a sleep-friendly environment, we can escape the trap of bedtime revenge procrastination. It is important to prioritize the power of rest and it is essential not to sacrifice sleep in exchange for personal time or autonomy.


References (click to expand)
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About the Author

Shweta Mishra has completed her Master’s in Applied Psychology (Clincial Specialisation) from Mumbai University. She is a guest faculty for undergraduates in RD & SH National College, teaching Psychology. Since teaching and talking about Psychology wasn’t enough, she also spends time writing about it. You can say if psychology didn’t exist, her personality wouldn’t either! In her free time, she likes reading and listening to Taylor Swift on repeat.

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