Featured Illustration: Shoko Ishida
Have you ever heard of revenge bedtime procrastination? You might have or not, but it is a phenomenon I believe many of us will relate to.
Have you ever had a rough day, filled with chores and responsibilities — be it work, home, or school? You then end the day exhausted with such fatigue that you want to just dive into your bed. You eventually do get to that, but then suddenly you pick up a book and read, or browse through your socials, check your DMs or start that series you’ve been planning on.
All this while, your eyes are dry and drooping with sleep and you’re probably feeling the oncoming of a headache caused by lack of sleep. Your back is probably screaming at you to lie down and just rest. To sleep and recharge your body.
But you don’t do that. You continue to do things that you couldn’t find time for in the day. It’s not really that important to finish that book after having such a hectic day. Or go through all your DMs and messages, but you can’t just stop yourself.
This goes on and suddenly, you’ve lost hours. Maybe 2, 3, or even 4. You’re even more tired now but stubborn and don’t do the one thing your body craves: sleep. Maybe you continue like this for a few more hours or your body gives up on you and you pass out, even though you stubbornly were procrastinating the rest.
This, my friend, is revenge bedtime procrastination. It is quoted as being “a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to go to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.” The term was apparently coined by Chinese social media users.
It is essentially you defying your own self. Or more specifically, your routine or your hectic lifestyle. You don’t find the time in your day to do the things you love or stuff that relaxes you, so you do them at the one time when the world is silent and not begging for your attention and energy. But sadly that me-time you find is also the time you should be resting and sleeping so that you can recharge.
This defiance against your own rest time is triggered because you feel like you have no control over your daytime life. It is a psychological issue that unfortunately many of us face.
I love reading and even on days when I shut down my laptop at 3 am after a day of work, I spend a few minutes (or hours) reading a book. That’s because I love reading, but being unable to find time to read or watch or just relax during the day makes me want to compromise with my sleep time.
The time during the day doesn’t really feel like my own. It’s the night when the sense of freedom and control over my time sets in place. You can finally have some time alone without feeling the guilt or the pressure of completing your tasks and duties. Frankly, it’s a sad way of life but can’t really be blamed on one single thing.
Admittedly, it is a very bad habit as it not only leaves you way more tired than before, but you also start to build some resentment towards your own life. Lack of sleep can also cause you a plethora of other problems, both physical and psychological, and even emotional. But that is another issue altogether.
At some point, you will most probably feel the need to change and just get some restful sleep, but it may not come to you as easily. You will then have to face the reality, that you’re simply not giving yourself enough time to relax and be yourself. That it is time you adjust your routine to prioritize not only your job, work, responsibilities, and duties, but also your leisure and wind-down time.
You’re not doing anyone any favors by losing sleep and opting out of the time to do little things that you love. Instead, you’re only going to get more frustrated and unhappy with the way things are.
So then, how do you even begin to undo this habit of taking revenge against your own time? How do we get that alone me- time that we are deprived of during the day?
Firstly, you have to identify what is causing this. What are you prioritizing more during your daytime? It can be easy to get stuck in the capitalistic cycle of working harder and harder to prove your worth, but sometimes you need to take a step back and re-evaluate.
What are the things or tasks that you can cut down? Maybe don’t take on that extra task that will cause you more stress and pressure. Don’t try to help someone when you’re buried in your work. It’s good to set healthy boundaries. Maybe order in instead of cooking by yourself. Maybe ask for help from the people around you. Chances are, they’d be happy to give you a hand.
Don’t be a perfectionist — you only get 24 hours a day and you’re only human. You can’t achieve a superhero level of productivity. Limit your productive hours too.
Another important thing is to set your routine strictly. That can be hard as not everyone can be orderly and manageable. I find it harder to stick to rigid schedules and make them as the day goes by, but that is the inherent problem.
Once you limit yourself to work or chores for certain hours only and then give yourself some downtime to relax and unwind, you might find yourself sleeping better and earlier. It might be hard at first but try to be strict yourself. And if possible, cut down on your work. Don’t take your work to your home, leave it where it belongs.
Next, you can try to keep yourself away from electronics. That might sound almost impossible, but sometimes drastic measures need to be taken for desperate times. Your smart devices will drain your time faster than you would realize.
Try to not take them with you to bed until you have a proper sleeping schedule set in place. Try limiting your usage, as hard as that might be.
You also need to make one set sleeping schedule that you try your absolute best to stick to. Once you start having one time for sleeping and waking up, you will automatically feel better, both physically and mentally. Do it for yourself.
Fix a time during your day to do things and indulge in tasks that you love. Be it Netflix and chilling, reading, sketching, baking, anything. Do it even if you do it for one or two hours. But give yourself that happy time. This will make you feel more in control of your time and your life, and give you the satisfaction of getting some time alone for yourself away from the chaos.
Finally, try developing healthy sleeping habits and routines. Have rituals that you do before sleeping, even if it is just washing your face, praying, meditating, or drinking something warm. Do it so that you can mentally condition yourself for your approaching bedtime. And sleep. Simply try to rest and relax and much you can.
Sometimes, doing a few things and making a few changes might help you overcome your habits and quit taking revenge on your bedtime by procrastinating sleep — but it is not always easy. It can take a long time before you develop healthier habits. You have to go slow and steady, be consistently patient with yourself, and be the turtle. Or better yet, no. Don’t be the turtle, be the rabbit — at least he got some sleep. Prioritize your health and wellness more than anything else.
It’s okay if you take a long time to finally find a balance. It’s okay if the same things don’t work for you — everyone is different after all. What is more important is that you show yourself some love and affection, and above all, understanding.
Always take care of yourself as you would anyone you love. Treat yourself with the same patience you might show others because you deserve and need that same understanding, tolerance, and some care from yourself more than anyone else you’d give it to.