Education, Wellness / Self-Care

The science behind staying up late, even though you shouldn’t

“Revenge bedtime procrastination.”

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Apr 18, 2021

Do you find yourself constantly staying up later than you should, knowing very well that you will pay the price in the morning? Well apparently, there’s a science to it. This is sometimes called “revenge bedtime procrastination.” The bad news is that it can happen to anyone, but the good news is that there’s a way out.


What is “revenge bedtime procrastination”?

The word “sleep procrastination” was coined in a 2014 study out of the Netherlands, which described the act as “failing to go to bed at the expected time, despite no external circumstances preventing a person from doing so.” With the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, the word “revenge” was added to the title, but the idea has been around for much longer.


Alessandra Edwards, a performance expert, explains that “revenge bedtime procrastination” is popular among people who feel they don’t have control over their time (such as those in high-stress jobs) and are searching for a way to recover some personal time, even if it means staying up late.


A lot of us who engage in “revenge bedtime procrastination” explain it to ourselves by saying that we stay up late because it’s the only time we get to have for ourselves. But what’s actually happening is plain and simple procrastination. This is known as bedtime procrastination or when-in-bed procrastination by some scholars, while the Chinese term for it means “revenge bedtime procrastination.” Whatever you name it, it includes technology and anxiety; we are worried that we won’t be able to fall asleep easily, so we tell ourselves that we’ll only swipe through social media until we’re exhausted. It is for this reason, as well as a lack of regulation, that makes this a serious case of sleep procrastination.


So, now that you know what you’re experiencing is called, how can you solve it?

According to many studies, a “power-down hour” can reduce sleep procrastination. This means that creating a strategy to slow your mind down before bed while getting yourself to slowly ease out of using technology will be the key of you getting a full night’s rest.


The method called “power-down hour” has a system composed of three 20-minute segments that go as follow:

  • The first segment is dedicated to tasks that need to be done before bed.
  • The second segment is set aside for hygiene (think a hot bath, or your nighttime grooming routine).
  • The final segment is for relaxation (journaling, meditating, or reading).


These sound hard to do, but you can get into the habit of doing them. And by doing this, you are engaging in behaviors of self-regulation. Try it out for a week and we guarantee you will be happy with the results.