Picture this: you had a 12-hour workday. You drove home, made dinner, cleaned, and then prepped for the next day. Suddenly, it is way past your preferred bedtime, and you’ve had no time to spend on yourself. Instead of going to sleep to prepare to have this day occur again, you find yourself scrolling on TikTok for 3 hours. Despite your body’s need for rest to recover from the current day and begin the next one, you decided to spend time on something that does not necessarily adhere with your values or meet your genuine needs. This is a phenomenon known as revenge bedtime procrastination or sleep procrastination. It is basically when you take revenge on your busy schedule by staying up late to get “me” time in before letting yourself sleep.

While this activity might feel uncontrollable, illogical, and isolated, it is actually more common than you might expect. In fact, in a recent discussion with peers, I discovered that this phenomenon was occurring for all of us. Of course, each numbing behavior varied (for me it was indeed TikTok). Others included watching Netflix, listening to music, and reading books.

So why do we do this? How are we able to disregard our body’s need for rest for something that is not so fulfilling? What causes this? Each person’s experience with this is unique to their personality and life situation, so it can present in many ways. When we do not have enough time during the day to take control and do something for ourselves, we feel the need to push off sleep to have a taste of this time for ourselves. However, many times it is not intentional and does not result in spending time doing deeply fulfilling activities.

Some hypothesize that this is a symptom of ADHD, while others claim that it is a symptom of burnout and having a tightly packed schedule. It could be seen as a way to allow yourself to de-stress after a long day, or it could indicate that you are simply just a night owl! One theory involves the connection between revenge sleep procrastination and self-control, indicating that it is harder to practice self-control after a long day thus increasing the chances of continued scrolling or binge-watching (Starkman, 2022).

Good news—there are many ways to work with your desire for revenge sleep procrastination. In a perfect world, I would encourage setting boundaries for your over-packed schedule and to use that time for self-care. However, boundary setting is not always realistic when it comes to saying no to responsibilities you need to meet in order to survive. Instead, it could be helpful to simply name what is happening and to not judge yourself for it. The feeling of shame could actually keep you stuck in the behavior even longer.

Maybe, it is naming it and intentionally incorporating things you like into the activities that you already must do. For example, putting on a show while you are making dinner or scrolling on social media while you are brushing your teeth. Either way, revenge bedtime procrastination seems to be a relatively common experience in our current world, and you are not alone!

Starkman, E. (2022, August 4). What is revenge bedtime procrastination? WebMD.

Learn more about this concept here:

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: Definition & Psychology | Sleep Foundation
What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination? | Psychology Today