Are you guilty of revenge bedtime procrastination


Are you guilty of “revenge bedtime procrastination”?

Have you ever heard of “revenge bedtime procrastination”? 

It’s a relatively new concept but in a nutshell, it refers to the behaviour of putting off going to sleep in favour of “me time”. 

Think mindlessly scrolling your socials, watching TV, playing video games, or for those old souls, reading a hard copy book. 

Whatever it may be, it’s the idea that you are exacting “revenge” on all of your stressors and obligations by delaying going to sleep (in order to have more free time and personal enjoyment). Essentially, you don’t feel like you have enough control over your life during the day – a lack of free time or fun – so you have to fit it in at night. Sound familiar?

It’s super common. But it’s (rarely) ever worth it! Sleep is so important it almost scares me, lol (nod to my 3 and 1 year olds). I’ve written about it before here.

Remember this stat? Pulling just one all nighter has been shown to cause a 6% reduction in blood flow or oxygenation to the brain and as much insulin resistance as a type 2 diabetic 👀 

I mean, not to mention: making you feel like you’re hungover, tired, cranky, more likely to crave carbs or sweets, have difficulty regulating your appetite, less motivated to work out, more prone to headaches or getting sick, brain foggy (and so on).

Ok, so what are we going to do to stop this unhealthy habit?

There are a lot of layers here.

#1. The first thing I think of is, who are you sharing your bed with? 

The first step is making a commitment to yourself (to change the habit), the second is making sure those around you respect your wish to prioritize your sleep (I wish I could just tell my sweet baby Liv that 😂) . It’s great when a couple are on the same page. If your partner is a night owl and you like to go to bed together, something will have to give or find compromise.

#2. Second, commit to a consistent bedtime and wake time. 

Even on weekends. This is key to establishing your circadian rhythm. Aim for 10 pm.

Did you know that cortisol (one of our stress hormones) is naturally lowest at ~10 pm at night (in a healthy state)? That is why so many patients find they need to be asleep no later than 11 pm or else they get a 2nd wind! We call this feeling “tired but wired”. You may still feel tired, but your brain is now wired. 

Now, I said a healthy state…if you’re stressed to the 9s you may well have high cortisol all evening and at bedtime. (There are some really lovely herbs and natural therapies that can help curb this). This high cortisol can contribute to revenge bedtime procrastination because you may not feel sleepy. Some people are burnt out all day and then finally feel good after 8 pm and start doing all sorts of activities. This is a sign of low cortisol in the day and high cortisol at night.

We can test for this if needed (however, a lot of valuable info can be gleaned from your symptoms/history taking). It’s called the 4 point salivary cortisol test and checks your cortisol levels upon waking, 2 hours later, 5 pm, and 10 pm to assess your adrenal gland function. Or in other words, it shows us how your body is coping (or not) with chronic stress.

#3. Once you’ve worked these out, click here to grab my Make Sleep Your Superpower FREEBIE. 

This comprehensive sleep guide covers the following sleep hygiene tips & routines:

  • Screen time and blue light 
  • Body and room temp 
  • Light exposures in your bedroom
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Bedtime snacks – say what? 
  • Sleepy time teas
  • Brain dump, mindfulness, & gratitude 
  • Morning plan – start the night before
  • Caffeine intake and timing
  • Light exposure in the mornings (happy lights in the Sk Winters)

#4. Reclaim your daytime hours.

This is really the crux of the matter for revenge bedtime procrastination: fitting more enjoyment into your day so that by bedtime, you don’t feel like you need to trade “me-time” for sleep.

Here are a few of my best tips for making the most of the day so you sleep better at night:

  • Carve out some time for yourself in the mornings. Now that you are going to bed earlier, consider waking up even 20-30 minutes earlier than usual. For many, mornings are a mad-dash and full of stress. We tend to wake already feeling a lack (of time) and we carry this into our day, cortisol pumping. Having some extra time to take it slower, set your intentions for the day, maybe read a couple pages of a book while you drink your tea or coffee, even 20 minutes to BE rather than do, can help feeling like there is more to life than work or your to-do list.
  • Schedule exercise during the day. Activity increases your sleep drive but choosing something you enjoy is also part of the pay-off of feeling like you had time to prioritize you. You can start small, e.g. 10 minutes/day and work up to 30 if possible (this can be two 15 min chunks). All movement helps (walks, chores).
  • Protect your energy. This one is a biggie.  Do an inventory of your emotional energy leaks. This could be in your relationships at work or home (especially co-dependent ones), excessive worrying, procrastination, doom scrolling, poor boundaries and people pleasing, or not speaking your truth. (There can be a lot to work on in this step, right?! Remember, direction is more important than speed.) When we procrastinate, we’re not doing something we know we have to, and so it still takes up space in our mind. I often think of it like too many tabs open on my computer: if I can just cross something off the list that I’ve been avoiding (LBH, sometimes the dreaded task may take as little as 5 minutes) and close that tab, my mind is less bogged down. Something I’ve been making more of a practice of these days, too, is paying attention to how I feel when consuming content or news online.
  • Reduce your workload, if at all possible (I know, I know…but be honest with yourself, in some cases for some people, the overwork is at least some of their own choosing. Think perfectionism, people pleasing, poor boundaries).
  • Schedule moments of rest or play into your day. Even if it’s 5-10 minutes of: sitting in the sun or playing with your dog on the tail end of a meal, lighting your fave candle and putting your feet up; texting your friend funny memes (or some other moment of connection). It can sound silly to schedule in 5-10 minute tasks, but for some, if you don’t mark it on your schedule it may not happen. If you work while you’re eating lunch, maybe start there (even if it’s 5 minutes of not working while you start your meal, some positive practice is better than nothing, it all adds up).

There’s more sleep content coming your way! Stay tuned to learn why “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” isn’t a good strategy & why the melatonin you’ve been buying hasn’t worked like you expected.

Subscribe to my email list & get the free Make Sleep Your Superpower ebook so that you don’t miss any of this special 4 part sleep series!

Click here to get the ebook.

- Dr. Willow

  1. […] Last week I shared a blog post about Revenge Bedtime Procrastination & how you can make the most of your days so that you feel ready for bed at night. If you missed it – you can read about it here.  […]

  2. […] and cortisol testing, and diet and lifestyle tips for a restful night’s sleep, you can catch them here and […]

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I help women achieve optimal digestive and hormonal wellness through a root cause, individualized approach to medicine that utilizes functional lab testing, diet and lifestyle modification, nutritional and herbal medicine, and acupuncture to re-establish lasting health.


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