Revenge Bedtime Procrastination Is F****ing Up Your Sleep Schedule

“Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for yourself.”

Attributed to Confucius, this quote is famously referenced to illustrate the self-destructive nature of revenge. And revenge bedtime procrastination is no different. Here’s why.

What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Bedtime procrastination is a person’s attempt at having control over their time during the night. This usually stems from a perception of lacking influence over events during the day. It became associated with revenge after the phenomenon grew in visibility in China.

Employees working the infamous ‘996’ felt that employers were stealing their time. They got revenge by taking it back at night. That speaks very much to me. Without a leisure activity planned after work, life is just work. On repeat.

For Sleep Foundation, revenge bedtime procrastination is “a response to extended work hours that, if combined with a full night's sleep, leave virtually no time for entertainment or relaxation.”

Causes and Effects

Revenge bedtime procrastination is associated with the following behaviors:

  • Having no actual reason to stay up late,
  • Delaying sleep, thus reducing total sleep time,
  • Being aware of the negative consequences induced by that delay, and
  • Procrastination-related behaviors (you’re not staying up late to do chores.)

At the moment, the scientific debate is still ongoing. For now, possible causes include having a different chronotype or lacking self-control. Simply put, the former is the case of Night Owl being forced into an Early Bird lifestyle.

But I’m most intrigued by the latter—the lack of self-control.

The Self-Control Vicious Circle

Because a busy work day is demanding in terms of self-control, our discipline is often the lowest at the end of the day. As a result, we fall for temptation much more easily and often slip into unhealthy habits at night.

Does that sound familiar to you? It’s normal. Research shows that taxing days make us more likely to engage in bedtime procrastination.

But here’s why I find the discipline part that intriguing. Because sleep procrastination is induced by low self-regulation. And that’s a vicious circle. Effectively, a cycle of reduced sleep is unlikely to result in more self-control. And a lack of self-control will hardly translate into a healthier lifestyle.

It’s ironic. Because bedtime procrastination initially became associated with revenge to reinforce the inversion of power that was in place. But considering how self-destructive revenge can be, I think it really tells the full story.

Sorry, I don’t have any advice on how to address this yet! I’ve recently learned more about how my body work thanks to the Limitless book.

So I’m trying to fix my own sleep schedule. Let me know if you have advice!

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Last updated on March 27, 2022.