What Is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on August 04, 2022
3 min read

After a jam-packed day, do you stay up late for some “me” time rather than go to bed a reasonable hour? If you’re in the habit of doing that, it could be a sign of revenge bedtime procrastination. Also known as sleep procrastination, it means you get “revenge” for your busy daytime schedule by fitting in leisure time at the expense of shut-eye.

The idea of sleep procrastination isn’t new to researchers, but the revenge spin is. It reportedly comes from the Chinese expression “bàofùxìng áoyè,” which took off on social media and roughly translates to “revenge bedtime procrastination” or “retaliatory staying up late.”

Here’s what you need to know, including how it could take a toll on your health.

Researchers have a few theories as to why some people knowingly sideline sleep for more free time.

It could be that you’re a night owl living in an early bird’s world. Or maybe you’re searching for easy stress relief after a busy day. Or perhaps you tend to procrastinate in general, meaning you put off doing important things. Some studies also link sleep procrastination to self-control, which you may have less of toward the end of the day.

Revenge bedtime procrastination could stem from one or more of these reasons, or from something else.

You might be putting yourself at risk for sleep deprivation, which is when you don’t get enough shut-eye. Adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Children and teens need more.

Falling short on slumber can take a toll on everything from your relationships to your job to your ability to drive safely. Along with feeling tired, you might also have symptoms like:

  • Slower thinking
  • Less attention
  • Worse memory
  • Faulty decision making
  • Stress, anxiety, and feeling irritated

Over the long run, sleep deprivation can raise your chances for health conditions such as:

A long-term lack of sleep might also raise your odds of dying early from any cause.

Don’t try to power through your days with caffeine and sugar for fuel. Take some simple steps to get a good night’s rest:

Limit daytime naps. If you must take a quick snooze while the sun’s up, keep it to 30 minutes or less and take it earlier in the day.

Set up a relaxing pre-bedtime routine. For instance, you could brush your teeth, read a book, and do some gentle stretches. Whatever you choose, follow the same routine each night.

Skip big late-night meals. Eating a lot before you hit the sack could make you restless.

Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Using any of these around bedtime can make it harder for you to fall asleep. If you smoke, quit for your health in general.

Watch that water. It’s smart to stay hydrated, but drinking a lot of water before bed could lead to middle-of-the night bathroom breaks.

Be consistent. Wake up and go to bed at the same times every day, even on weekends.

Prime your bedroom for sleep. Before you call it a night, set the temperature between 66 and 70 F. Dim or turn off any lights. Power down devices that have a screen. If you have a bright clock at bedside, turn it away from you. And consider using a white-noise app or other soothing sounds to mask any disruptive noises.

Talk to your doctor if these tips don’t help. If an underlying health condition is stealing your sleep, treatment could help you get the rest you need.