Revenge Sleep Procrastination

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Revenge sleep procrastination is a global phenomenon that causes lack of sleep, and in effect, a range of other related health problems. Unfortunately, this silent killer is something that affects most working people today.

Read on to learn more about what revenge sleep procrastination is, what causes it, and how you can fight it so you can have a good and healthy night of sleep.

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Revenge Sleep Procrastination | All You Need to Know

What is Revenge Sleep Procrastination?

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“Revenge bedtime procrastination” or “revenge sleep procrastination” is the term for when a person decides to sacrifice his or her sleep in exchange for leisure time. Often, people who have this unhealthy habit have highly stressful daytime jobs or schedules.


In simpler terms, revenge sleep procrastination is a way of finding time for entertainment and leisure at the expense of sleep.

The term “bedtime procrastination” was first introduced in a 2014 paper. “Revenge” bedtime procrastination later became popular in China. It became a way of describing people who work 12-hour days and stay up late to take back some semblance of control over their time.

Occasionally staying up late is unlikely to cause major health problems. Making it a habit, however, will have a huge negative impact not just on your sleep schedule, but on your overall health and well-being.

Some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Bad memory
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of cardiac problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain

Why is it Called Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

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People who have the habit of practicing revenge sleep procrastination often work high-stress jobs. These jobs typically take up most of their day. They then make up for the lack of relaxation time by sacrificing a few hours of sleep at night.

The term revenge came about because the time taken up by bedtime procrastination is a kind of “revenge” or “an act of rebellion” with “little cost” in terms of how it affects the person's daytime hours.


It became especially popular after a viral tweet by a journalist named Daphne k. Lee. The journalist describes it as “a phenomenon in which people who don't have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.”

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How Do I Know If I Have Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

Young man sitting bed | Revenge sleep procrastination

Simply staying up late is not necessarily a sign of revenge sleep procrastination. According to researchers, there are a few features that distinctly define the behavior:

  • The delay in going to sleep has to decrease the overall sleeping time of a person each night.
  • The delay in going to sleep is not caused by other reasons such as sickness, environmental factors that may interfere with sleep, and the like.
  • The person engaging in the behavior has to be fully aware that it might lead to negative consequences later on but chooses to do so anyway.

Often, the habit starts small: 10 minutes to play on your phone or browse on various apps. In the next few nights, you might watch an episode of your favorite show which takes approximately 40 minutes to an hour.

Before you know it, you'll find yourself up until the early hours of the morning doing inconsequential things with only a few hours left before you have to wake up again for work the following day.

Nowadays, a lot of people all over the world unknowingly have this unhealthy habit. The reasons behind why they do this, however, vary.

For the working mom, for example, those few hours after the kids are put to bed might be their only alone time. Busy people with hectic work schedules may only have those few hours after getting home to relax. They might choose to lounge on the couch, binge-watch TV shows, and experience some undisturbed relaxation time.

What Causes Revenge Sleep Procrastination?

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In general, the lack of free time during the day and the need to relieve stress is the number one cause of revenge sleep procrastination. Other factors, however, can also contribute to it.

  • The 2014 study mentioned above states that revenge bedtime procrastination was also found to be negatively correlated with self-regulation. This means that people who have lower self-control are also more likely to have this negative habit.
  • Another possibility researchers are looking into is the tendency to procrastinate in general. The theory is that people who are more likely to procrastinate in general are also more likely to practice revenge sleep procrastination.
  • A person's sleep patterns, especially those who are naturally inclined to working or being more active at night (“night owls”).

In a more recent study, the COVID-19 pandemic also seems to have played a role in worsening the problem. The study shows that approximately 40% of adults experienced an increase in their sleeping problems during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

How Can I Stop Going to Bed Late?

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If revenge sleep procrastination is a big problem for you, here are a few tips that might help:

  • Prioritize sleep – Be more conscious and constantly remind yourself of why sleep should be a priority. Having a more restful sleep means you have the energy to accomplish everything you need to do the next day.
  • Practice good sleeping habits – Develop healthy sleep practices that not only improve the amount of sleep you get but also the quality. Some of these include avoiding caffeine and alcohol and creating an environment that is conducive to sleep.
  • Assess your schedule – Look at your schedule and check what activities demand a lot of your time. If these things leave you with a feeling of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, then maybe it's time to let them go.
  • Schedule time for yourself – Set aside some time dedicated especially for you, so you never run the risk of feeling burnt out from work.

Now that you know all about the negative effects of sleep deprivation, learn how to maximize your sleep and improve your health with this video courtesy of Tom Bilyeu:

Revenge sleep procrastination is an unhealthy behavior practiced by a lot of people who have highly stressful daytimes. Our guide should not only tell you what revenge sleep procrastination is, but more importantly, how you can fight it so you

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