Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Revenge bedtime procrastination is defined as sacrificing sleep to enjoy some downtime or activities that you weren't able to do earlier in the day. Although it's not a medical condition or a sleep disorder, it's a fairly common phenomenon.

In fact, previous studies demonstrate that up to 53.1% of young adults report engaging in bedtime procrastination. But, procrastinating at bedtime is not good for your health or quality of life.

This article describes revenge bedtime procrastination, the reasons and consequences to follow, as well as how to prevent it from happening.

Woman up in bed watching tv

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What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Revenge bedtime procrastination refers to the conscious decision to delay sleep due to stress or lack of time during the day, even though you know it's not a healthy choice. The term "revenge" emerged as an English translation on social media from a Chinese phrase used to describe the frustration of working long hours and sacrificing sleep to carve out some personal time.

Signs and Symptoms

There are two different forms of procrastination: Delaying getting into bed (bedtime procrastination) and delaying the act of sleeping once you are in bed (while in bed procrastination). Signs of procrastination include engaging in other activities instead of going to bed, such as watching TV and using a mobile device. Procrastination decreases a person's overall amount of sleep per night.

Researchers investigated the behaviors of people three hours prior to bed and discovered that those in the study who procrastinated spent 61 more minutes per day on their mobile devices compared to the group of people who had low bedtime procrastination. Media use is considered a form of leisure activity.

What Causes Sleep Procrastination

Sleep procrastination occurs when you intentionally avoid going to bed at a certain time, even though there are no external causes preventing you from doing so. Sleep procrastination is often associated with general procrastination and difficulties with self-regulation.

The Psychology Behind Avoiding Sleep

There are personal characteristics that may increase a person's interest in avoiding sleep. People who procrastinate on other things are more likely to procrastinate at bedtime. In addition, people who prefer evening over daytime (often referred to as "night owls") may have an increase in bedtime procrastination.

Studies have associated a lack of self-control and aversion to a bedtime routine as other characteristics associated with bedtime procrastination.

How Bedtime Procrastination Impacts Health

Inadequate sleep can have many negative implications on health, both in the short term and long term. Lack of sleep has been associated with concentration and memory problems, as well as obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Short-Term Consequences

Insufficient sleep is defined as less than seven to eight hours of sleep per night. When this occurs for a few days or less you may experience some short-term complications.

The main short-term consequence is daytime sleepiness, which can negatively affect a person's quality of life. Other short-term consequences may include concentration problems, slower thinking, lack of energy, and mood-related issues. Slowed reaction time when driving is also common and can result in drowsy driving, which is dangerous.

Long-Term Consequences

Chronic sleep loss has serious consequences on health, safety, and performance. Because sleep plays a fundamental role in ensuring the body is functioning properly, chronic sleep deficiency increases the risk of developing a host of issues including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Immunodeficiency
  • Hormonal changes
  • Pain
  • Mental health disorders

How to Prevent Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

If you are avoiding sleeping because you have no time to yourself during the day, find a way to do something for yourself before the late evening. This is difficult to do but making a conscious effort to carve out 30 minutes for yourself daily is important for your overall well-being. Consider going out for lunch, taking a walk, or watching a show during a work break.

Establishing a good bedtime routine is also critical for adequate sleep. Aim to be consistent and focus on activities before bed that may help you wind down, such as reading (not on your phone), stretching, meditation, or listening to calming music. Try to avoid smartphone use before bed, which is associated with negative effects on mood, insomnia, and fatigue. The blue lights can also increase arousal and reduce sleepiness.

Practicing good sleep hygiene or sleep habits is also important. You'll want to make sure your sleeping conditions are optimal; your room is cool and dark, and your clothes are comfortable.

Other things that can help include:

  • Getting regular daily exercise
  • Getting enough sunlight during the day
  • Choosing comfortable pillows and bedding
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and electronic devices (at least one hour before bed)
  • Removing your phone next to your bed


Revenge bedtime procrastination is a common phenomenon that occurs when you deliberately delay sleep to engage in other activities. Although common, lack of sleep can have negative effects on your mental and physical health. If you are struggling with this, consider changing up your sleep routine and carving out some time for yourself during the day. A consistent sleep routine will take time to establish, but starting with small, consistent changes can help.

A Word From Verywell

Life is so busy that it can be hard to find time to engage in leisure activities during the day. But forgoing sleep to stay up late and watch TV or scroll through social media is not good for your overall health. Short-term and long-term consequences of sleep deprivation range from sleepiness during the day to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Whether you are an evening person or haven't been able to establish a good sleep routine, making simple changes to improve your sleep may help improve your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can depression make you stay up late?

    The relationship between sleep and depression is complex. Lack of sleep can cause depressive feelings and depression can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you think you are experiencing sleep trouble due to depression, you should contact a mental health professional for support and guidance.

  • Is sleep procrastination a symptom of ADHD?

    People with ADHD often experience sleep difficulties and sleep procrastination is one of them.

  • How do you build a good bedtime routine?

    Good bedtime routines can vary, but usually involve relaxing activities that are done regularly each night around the same time. Avoid technology before bed, and instead read, meditate, drink tea, and stretch. Being consistent with these activities can help the brain recognize when it's time to go to sleep.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Sleep Foundation. What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

  3. Kroese FM, De Ridder DT, Evers C, Adriaanse MA. Bedtime procrastination: introducing a new area of procrastination. Front Psychol. 2014;5:611. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00611

  4. Colten HR, Altevogt BM, Research I of M (US) C on SM and. Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders. National Academies Press (US).

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  6. Colten HR, Altevogt BM, Research I of M (US) C on SM and. Extent and health consequences of chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders. National Academies Press (US).

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for better sleep.

  8. Sleep Foundation. Sleep deprivation.

  9. Sleep Foundation. ADHD and sleep,

By Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.