What is ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ and how do you break the habit?

We all know it’s important to have a bedtime.

And yet we’re still tired when we wake up and constantly complain about lack of sleep, downing cup after cup of coffee just to get through the day.

So why do we constantly stay up after midnight? Turns out it could all be down to something called revenge bedtime procrastination, reports Metro UK.

What on earth is that? It’s staying up later than you should just so you can have more leisure time – whether that’s scrolling Instagram, binge watching Netflix, or spontaneously deciding to reorganise your sweater collection.

But all you’re doing is putting off your bedtime. Not because you have stuff that actually needs doing, but because you simply haven’t had enough time for fun things during your day once you’ve fulfilled all your work and family obligations.

Sleep expert Dr Verena Senn tells Metro: “For those who feel their daytime is consumed by their busy schedules, revenge bedtime procrastination is all about taking back control of their own time, even at the expense of sleep.”

Lockdown made this even more of a habit as boundaries blurred between our work and home lives.

This isn’t exactly a healthy habit. It’s recommended you get from seven to nine hours of good-quality sleep per night. If you’re not getting that regularly, you’re stacking up a whole lot of “sleep debt”, which wreaks havoc on your physical and mental health.

And research says you can’t cheat by “catching up” on sleep on the weekends – you need to set a proper bedtime and stick to it.

So how do you break the habit?

The first step is recognising that sleep procrastination is an issue – not a “hack” to catch up on your TV time.

You should look at when this behaviour happens – is there anything that triggers it? Keeping a diary can help you notice patterns. You might be more likely to procrastinate your bedtime when you’ve worked a long day, or when you feel like you’ve wasted your evening on work or life admin.

If so, time management could be the solution. Making the decision to leave work on time and planning out your evenings so they don’t zoom past in a blur of unproductivity can help you reclaim your relaxation hours.

You could also look at your sleep hygiene – no, that’s not showering before bed, it’s having the right behavioural and environmental conditions to sleep.

Dr Senn recommends avoiding caffeine, especially in the afternoons, keeping it dark in your bedroom and turning off your devices for at least an hour before bedtime.

“It may also be a good idea to be exercising for 30 minutes a day (but not two to three hours before bedtime) and making sure you’ve got a healthy and varied diet,” she says.

“Sticking to a sleep schedule is a great foundation but it’s also important to make sure you’re winding down in the evening. A few ways to do this could be through having a hot bath, reading a book, or some meditation.”

It’s important to think of these practices as part of your “me time”, she says – not just another chore to tick off your list, or they’ll just become another part of your day you feel the need to get “revenge” on.

“This may be tricky but tailor the activity to what works best for you, habits are easier to keep if they bring you joy – consistency is key when it comes to our sleep!”

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