Health and Fitness

Sleep Procrastination: The Ultimate Revenge for the Overworked

When you choose to stay up for me time.
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Sales supervisor Mitch gorges on mukbang videos until 1 a.m. even if she has to wake up in a few hours for work because that's the only "me time" she has. For 16 hours a day, she's on a coffee-fueled autopilot to finish her tasks.

Procrastinating on sleep as revenge gives Mitch a sense of control yet there are concerns that long days and nights could be unhealthy in the long run.

"Hindi din ako makatulog agad kahit pagod. 'Yung work ko kasi kinakain na 'yung time ko since more than 12 hours na ako naka-duty. So pag-uwi, doon pa lang ako nagkakaroon ng 'me time', social life sa social media," she told reportr.

"Nakadagdag din siya sa puyat, pero iniisip ko kasi 'yun lang din naman time ko para magawa 'yun, 'di ko rin 'yun magagawa at work. Iniisip ko na lang na sige, may four to five hours pa naman ako [para matulog], nood muna ako."

While Mitch squeezed in a "win" for the self after an exhausting day, it can wreck her sleep cycle in the long run and can cause distress, behavioral sleep medicine psychologist Alicia Roth said.

Why delay bedtime for leisure?

Usually linked to people who face significant daytime stress, people who delay sleep could be responding to long work hours that leave little to no room for rest, the Sleep Foundation said.

The rise in sleep procrastination could also be due to the pandemic, where the line between work and rest was blurred, Roth said,

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"They usually do it when they are stressed or busy during the daytime and doesn’t have much time to do leisure activities. It is their way of taking back the time they are supposed to have for themselves because they need to do other activities," clinical psychologist Angela Bunag-Joaquin told reportr.

Revenge bedtime procrastinators don't hate sleeping, a 2014 Frontiers study said. It's more of people "not wanting to quit other activities" at the expense of ample sleep, it said. 

The usual signs of being a revenge bedtime procrastinator include giving up having a good night's sleep for leisure activities and feeling sleepy during the daytime, said Bunag-Joaquin.

While it can be seen as a form of self-care, it can also take a toll on your physical and mental health, she said.

Sleep deprivation means the brain and body are not well-rested, which can lead to diminished thinking, memory, and decision-making capabilities. It also harms productivity and heightens irritability, said Sleep Foundation.

Lack of sleep can also lead to cardiovascular problems and weaken the immune system, the foundation said.

How to Avoid Sleep Procrastination

Here are some tips on how to avoid sleep procrastination and have better control over your time:

Lessen activities by sundown.

Try to fit your activities in the morning so you can lessen them as bedtime approaches, said Bunag-Joaquin.

Avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon or late evening.

Abstain from caffeine a minimum of six hours before bedtime so it won't interfere with rest, the Sleep Foundation said. If you sleep at around 10 p.m., the cut-off time for caffeine should be 4 p.m., it said.

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Limit gadget use.

Learn when to say goodbye to your gadgets as it impacts sleep quality, said Bunag-Joaquin. Using gadgets, including their sounds and lights, can distract or wake you from your slumber especially if you sleep beside it, said Sleep Foundation.

If you can, stop the use of electronic devices for a least half an hour before going to bed.

Keep the bed sacred.

Stay out of bed until you're ready to sleep to create a bubble exclusively for rest, Roth said.

Develop a routine.

This also means having a consistent bedtime and wake-up time even on your rest days or holidays, Sleep Foundation said. Relaxation methods like reading a book or meditating can help ease you to sleep.

It's important to have a well-balanced lifestyle that includes a good night's sleep, said Bunag-Joaquin.

"Consider sleep as part of self-care also," she said.

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