When the pandemic hit, and we began spending more time inside, many folks hoped they’d have more time to prioritize sleep. But somehow, it seems like we’re collectively getting less sleep than ever before.
How many nights have you found yourself staying awake later than you should because you’re mindlessly scrolling through your phone for a hit of dopamine (your “feel good” hormone) or binge-watching Netflix? It’s not uncommon. In fact, what you’re doing even has a name — revenge bedtime procrastination.
According to Abhinav Singh, medical adviser at the Sleep Foundation, revenge bedtime procrastination is the “voluntary delaying of sleep time, often by an individual with a hectic daily schedule with a lack of leisure or free time.”
“Revenge is typically in response to the busy day that they have had, and sleep is sacrificed to free up time for recreational activities,” Singh said, noting that this has seemingly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It makes sense: Many of us are burned out and hitting a pandemic wall. During a global health crisis, we’re navigating work, remote learning, and caregiving (and sometimes all of the above). We’re tired, traumatized, and just trying to make it through the day. That could lead to us grabbing back our lost free time in protest, even late at night.
While it’s tempting to put off going to sleep to steal back a few moments for ourselves, it’s not the best thing for your health. Singh said revenge bedtime procrastination can ultimately lead to chronic sleep deprivation — which can have immediate and long-term effects on your well-being. Sacrificing sleep is like taking a very high-interest loan with steep payments in the form of poor productivity, mood, cognition, and more. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk for other health issues.
When it comes to short-term effects, Singh said, individuals will often have a hard time waking up, appear sleepy during the day and find themselves increasing caffeine consumption to compensate.
“People who are sleep-deprived can be irritable, forgetful, anxious, and may make poorer food choices,” he explained. “Obesity, diabetes, cardiac disorders, high blood pressure, mood disorders like anxiety and depression have all been linked to chronic sleep loss. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to increased mortality.” So how do you quit this habit and get better rest while still taking time for yourself? Here are a few expert tips:
Take daytime naps.
Ryan Fiorenzi, the founder of Start Sleeping and a certified sleep coach, said taking short naps during your workday, if possible, can be helpful to ward off revenge bedtime procrastination.