What is "Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?"

Jun 7, 2024

Let’s set the scene…

Lights, camera, ACTION! 🎬

It’s 11pm. 

Just… one more episode” you say to yourself, as you walk over to the microwave to heat up your leftovers. “I had such a busy day, I didn’t even really get to do anything I wanted to do. I’ll get in bed after this…

Suddenly — it’s 2am, and you’re 100 videos deep on your phone, wide awake. 😱

You look at the clock, and sigh with frustration.

You know your alarm is going to hurt in the morning… or maybe you don’t even need an alarm, because your cat is going to wake you up in a few hours anyway.

CUT! Rewind.

How did we get here… again? 🥲

What’s going on?

This "fun" pattern is called “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination,” and many, many people do it.

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is when we delay bedtime as an adult, even if we are tired or know we have to get up early. Then, we feel sleepy and bad the next morning, unable to make the most out of our day. It can easily become a pattern.

This pattern is a very normal response to a few common desires, like:

🔸 Finally shaking off stress and wanting to carve out time to enjoy yourself after you’ve spent the whole day tending to work (or other people).

🔸 Enjoying the peace and quiet of the evening, and wanting it to last longer.

🔸 Just wishing there were a few more hours in a day…

It has revenge in the name because it is often a response to daytime stressors, and can come from the frustration of not having time to address your own need to relax and recharge during the day.

While it’s completely understandable, that doesn’t mean this pattern does us any favors — even if it can feel enjoyable in the moment.

If everything you’ve read so far sounds familiar, we have 3 strategies to help you get out of this cycle

Trust us when we say we’ve been there.

First: Understand Your Why

Before you can make any changes, you have to do a little bit of thinking about why you do this. 

Revenge doesn’t look the same for everyone. 

No matter what your answer, it’s worth considering: who are you really taking revenge on? 

(Unfortunately, the person who most often suffers the consequences of a late bedtime / early wake-up is… yourself.)

So, what’s at the heart of you not wanting to go to bed? There’s no wrong answer, just note it down somewhere so you can have it in the back of your mind. 

😎 It's not a crime to hate bedtime — once you understand your why, you can work with it, not against it.

How to Break the Habit

#1: Create an evening routine that brings you joy and comfort.

If you make the process of winding down feel good, you’ll be more likely to do it. 

Being more intentional about winding down is a good idea because it helps you make a more active choice about how you want the evening to go, instead of getting sucked into a social media hole by default.

At focused space, we reject the idea that routine has to be boring. You can always bring a little creativity into the mix. Here are a few ideas:

Come up with an evening routine that engages your senses. Think music, scents, a warm shower, a cool compress on the eyes, cuddling a loved one — anything that’s going to connect you with your body. 

Put on cozy socks, do some watercolors for 15-minutes, eat an orange — it really doesn’t matter what you decide to do, just do something simple and intentional that calms you.

After all that, you might start to feel some of the revenge leaving your body… 👻

#2: Find ways to relax and recharge during the day.

Make rest less scarce in your life so the evenings don’t feel like the only time you have to relax.

Learn to fight the voices in your head that tell you that you have to constantly be working to make progress. It isn’t true! You know how sometimes you can do 2 hours of work in 30 minutes if you’re in the right headspace? Taking breaks to recharge will benefit you.

Remember that you can learn to trust yourself to get things done. If you're really busy, you might need some tools and support to make your days easier.

At focused space, we help people get really clear on their priorities every morning, and break big tasks down into smaller chunks so they are much easier to achieve.

Managing our energy (and not just our time) helps us find more ease in the day — which is great, because we all need space in our lives for relaxation and more moments of joy.

#3: Actually… don’t stop doing it!

Okay, this one might be controversial, but we think it’s actually realistic and even healthy

Our advice: Let yourself do it sometimes! Go for it! 

Give yourself one or two nights a week where you allow yourself to delay bedtime by an hour or two. Make it a special treat, and something you look forward to

This will take away some of its edge — and with it, some of the self-loathing you may feel when you do it. If you are intentional about anything you do, it can be a source of strength. 

You aren’t defined by something you only do once in a while. It can just be a fun, quirky habit of yours to… stay up way too late once in a while 😎

I don't want to stop.

If you have a really demanding job, or if you are a busy caretaker, we get it — maybe the evening hours are the only time you have to yourself right now.

If that’s the case, we don’t want to take this time away from you  — don’t take revenge on us, please! 😜 — but it might be worth considering: what would have to change in your daily routine for you to feel like you could rest and recharge at other times of the day?

Maybe that looks like occasionally taking a guilt-free break in the afternoon to do something that feels fun — like taking a long walk, watching one episode of a tv show, or calling a friend.

Or maybe it means trading childcare breaks with your partner so you each get a chance to do something to relax (before midnight!). It may not be possible to carve out time every single day, but know that even occasional changes will help.

Rest is extremely important to our mental and physical wellbeing. Even if you only stop procrastinating bedtime a few nights a week, it will still add up to a huge improvement in your overall health, happiness, and sense of control over your life.

Be kind to yourself, do a little self-reflection about the reasons why you delay bedtime, and try a few of the strategies in this post to see if you can make even one small change

🤖 Remember, you are not a robot. Of course you want to relax and have fun — that’s part of what makes you human!

So don’t beat yourself up about Revenge Bedtime Procrastination (who needs double punishment?!) and learn to work with yourself instead. 

You got this — and so do we! 😜

— your friends at focused space

PS. We're hosting a workshop with sleep coach & focused space partner Glen Lubbert to give you tips on creating better sleep habits for boosting productivity. Sign up here!