Our lives are generally busy, filled with responsibilities, meetings, calls, emails, taxes to pay, home chores to tend to… this to-do list goes on and on. As a consequence, we often don’t have the luxury of simply unwinding and relaxing, not to mention having fun, engaging in self-care, or enjoying our hobbies. We get up in the morning, rush through our day, try to catch up on all the backlog at work, and come back home late, drained and exhausted. It might feel frustrating and unfair to have no time for ourselves to do things we truly enjoy. 

Are we really doomed to run in the hamster wheel of repeating the same thing all over again tomorrow? Is constant workplace stress and pressure really what our lives are all about? 

That’s where revenge bedtime procrastination comes in, tempting us with a quick fix of instant gratification in the form of scrolling through social media, binge-watching Netflix, playing video games, or swiping through dating apps way past our bedtime. What seems to be a consolation prize in the moment unfortunately has numerous negative consequences, i.e., insomnia, poor focus, mood swings, and even anxiety or depression

Why do we do it? Who’s most susceptible to it? How to stop revenge bedtime procrastination? Read on to find out more!

What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

A specific behavior is classified as revenge bedtime procrastination only if these three elements are present:

  1. Going to bed late is a result of your choice, not an external reason, i.e., sickness.
  2. Even though you know you must wake up early, you still sacrifice your overall sleep time whenever you delay going to sleep.
  3. You realize that cutting your sleep short is terrible for your overall health.

I’m sure you know it all too well: 

Even though it’s late and you know it’s not a good idea, you pick up your phone in bed, just for a couple of minutes, which turns into a couple of hours. You just want to squeeze in some fun and relaxation on what otherwise can be considered a pretty busy and stressful day. Yet, before you know it, you wake up tired, sleep-deprived, and feeling lifeless, like a deflated balloon. Not so fun after all, is it?

Researchers explain that revenge bedtime procrastination is an example of an intention-behavior gap, meaning your actions do not align with your plans. Even though you want to get a good night’s sleep and realize how unhealthy this behavior is – you fail to refrain from it. 

The absolute worst scenario is falling into a vicious cycle and making revenge bedtime procrastination your bad habit. Why? Because the lack of sleep builds up, leading to significant long-term physical and mental health issues like:

  • weak immunity
  • cardiovascular problems
  • increased risk of diabetes
  • dysregulated emotional states
  • decreased cognitive functions (i.e., memory, focus)
  • anxiety
  • depression.

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

What Causes Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Lack of self-control Your sleep pattern Daytime stress
Some of us are more prone to procrastination, which influences our self-regulating capacity. Sticking to self-discipline at the end of the day is more challenging when running low on resources like energy or focus. If you’ve never been a “morning person”, struggle with waking up early, and prefer to fall asleep late, chances are you’re a “night owl”, which may put you at a greater risk of engaging in revenge bedtime procrastination.


Revenge bedtime procrastination is often a way to release the stress built up during the day, most common for those working high-pressure jobs that take up most of their time. 

How to Stop Revenmge Bedtime Procrastination in 3 Steps

1. Prioritize Your Sleep

Overcoming revenge bedtime procrastination is not rocket science. It’s pretty straightforward, and a great first step is to make your sleep your number one priority. 

Start with reflecting on how this habit has affected you so far:

  • What are your energy, motivation, and productivity levels?
  • Can you control your moods?
  • Do you tend to feel distracted and irritable?

Whenever you’re tempted by a new series to watch or a fun game to play late at night, try to remember the negative consequences of sleep deprivation. Make sure to align your actions with how you want to behave. Bridge that intention-behavior gap and set yourself up for success.

2.  Build a Healthy Nighttime Routine

If you struggle with going to bed too late – start getting ready to sleep earlier. Create a pleasant nighttime routine that’ll calm you down and prepare your body to rest. 

There’s no blueprint for a healthy nighttime routine – it varies from one person to another, depending on their preferences. However, here are some general ground rules:

  • Refrain from stimulating activities, such as using electronic devices.
  • Don’t consume alcohol or caffeine in the evening.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep cycle. 
  • Create an optimal sleep environment with minimal sources of light or noise.
  • Engage in a soothing practice, i.e.:
    • taking warm showers/baths,
    • relaxation techniques,
    • mindfulness meditation,
    • reading a chapter of a book you enjoy.

To explore this topic more, learn 5 ways to improve your sleep habits.

Healthy Nighttime Routine

3.  Schedule Time for Self-Care

The word “revenge” in bedtime procrastination stands for the attempt to regain the hours we feel we wasted/lost on work and other responsibilities. If we’re so busy during the day, then at least we can enjoy some night screen time…

What if, instead of sacrificing your sleep, you’d:

  • carve out some time during your day for self-care practices?
  • make sure that your needs are taken care of?

Before you think you don’t have enough time for that, check if there are some activities you can either eliminate or delegate to someone else. Perhaps you could hire a babysitter once a week, do your groceries online, or decline your coworker’s request. 

Remember: where’s a will, there’s a way

It’s important to acknowledge that sometimes, gritting your teeth and pushing yourself won’t be enough. Sometimes, you might benefit from getting professional help and starting psychotherapy, especially if there are some underlying causes of your insomnia or distress, such as anxiety or depression

Don’t wait for your revenge bedtime procrastination to disappear—take charge of your well-being and contact one of our experienced psychologists today!