Staying Awake as an Act of Rebellion

Most of us do not like being told what to do. It can be as minor as a parent telling us to do an easy chore, or someone you don’t know that well telling you how to do something. This even includes your own brain: for example, you may tell yourself to start that homework assignment or put your laundry away, and instead…you would rather not.

Another example is something called “revenge bedtime procrastination.” If you find yourself staying up late, even though you know you need to go to sleep, and continue to stay up late anyway, you likely are engaging in revenge bedtime procrastination. In short, the idea behind revenge bedtime procrastination is that your brain keeps you awake to make up for lost time. Spending the majority of your day at work and/or school – things you likely aren’t the biggest fan of – may make you feel that you need to spend just as much time on yourself. Thus, when the day itself is winding down, your brain continues to be active so you can do things for you.

This has been getting more attention because of the pandemic, but staying up to make up for lost time is nothing new. Unfortunately, however, your body may be too tired or you may not have the opportunity to do much, so even if your brain wants you to continue to stay awake, the activities you do are not likely to be productive. If you find yourself staying up late and putting off going to bed, you’re likely going to spend that time mindlessly scrolling on your phone or watching TV. For some, especially those with anxiety, staying up late also puts off the idea that the next day is going to arrive, and the routine of school, work, and other assignments is unfortunately going to continue. Staying up late is the mind’s way of putting it off as much as possible, even if those tasks are going to start at the same time no matter what.

As we know at this point, sleep deprivation is both mentally and physically damaging, despite trying to make up for lost time. We have tons of articles about how to manage your sleep and set more appropriate habits that you can try out to get the healthiest amount. When it comes to revenge bedtime procrastination specifically, try to remember that no matter what, the next day is inevitable, and the scrolling on your phone isn’t worth getting half the amount of sleep that your body needs. Unfortunately, accepting this is easier said than done, but you can also set goals for yourself to give time just for you each day during the week to do whatever makes you feel productive and happy.

Do you find yourself staying up late for no reason? What do you do? Do you know why you like to stay up late? Have you noticed your sleeping patterns change since the pandemic?

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