I think I speak for everyone when I say there are times in our lives when we are so overwhelmed with work, school, raising children, finding a job, etc. that we forget to take time for ourselves. We immerse ourselves in everyday life to make sure everybody else’s world is still spinning. While we’ve managed to keep them going, we are stuck in limbo. So what do we do? We either choose to ignore the lack of time we take for ourselves or we are willing to sacrifice something very important to our health and well-being… like sleep.
There’s actually a fairly new scientific term for this called Revenge Bedtime Procrastination (RBP). According to Medical News Today, Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is “the act of staying up after all the day’s chores and activities are complete despite it decimating our precious sleep time”. For a better look at the way Revenge Bedtime Procrastination manifests itself, check out the video below.
Truthfully after watching that video for the first time, I felt a little indifferent. I mean really… what is the big deal with me sacrificing a little sleep for some me time? However, once I really started thinking about the way I prioritize the things that do cause stress such as work and other chores, it made me realize that this pattern is more dangerous than I thought. Not only is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination contributing to baggy eyes in the mornings, but it is also driving people to experience acute and severe sleep deprivation. These poor sleeping habits are typically exposed in the workplace in a myriad of annoying and potentially dangerous ways.
How Revenge Bedtime Procrastination Shows Up In The Workplace
Have you ever woken up bright and early, had your morning coffee, sang your favorite jams on the way to work only to sit in front of your computer and struggle to remember your passwords? Even worse, you’ve forgotten where you put the sticky note with all your passwords on it.
Then you have to go to a meeting and your employer assigns you one simple task. You don’t even write it down because it’s so simple and easy to remember. Then one hour after the meeting, you experience a wave of panic because you can’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing by 4:00 PM that day.
If you’re someone who consistently succumbs to Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, then you probably just say “oh I just have really bad memory” or “my memory sucks”. In reality, you could improve your memory by just going to sleep. The sleep deprivation experienced by prolonged Revenge Bedtime Procrastination diminishes functions in your brain that make memories stick and help you recall them.
When you read the heading, your mind probably started trying to tally all the potential accidents that could happen in your workplace. We all know how sleep deprivation can have negative consequences on workers such as commercial truck drivers, healthcare workers, or people who work on construction sites and chemical plants.
What about the people who think they are immune from any workplace accident in the comfort of their nice, air-conditioned office? In a standard workplace, there are about 5 different ways you can fall, and office workers are 2-2.5 times more likely to suffer a disabling injury due to a fall. You may think that you’ll never be injured on the job, but in any occupation or industry, prevention is mostly centered around your level of attentiveness to tasks and microtasks.
According to research, acute and chronic sleep deprivation, which is caused by Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, can nearly “disable” your ability to be attentive while also increasing your distractibility. This research also shows that effort and cognitive engagement, no matter how hard you are trying, is not enough to make up for your lack of sleep. In addition, your reaction times are significantly slowed. If you do find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, your response time could be the difference between injury or no injury.
Have you ever been at your workstation minding your own business, look over, and see a coworker resting their hand on their head? You turn around to tap your friend who sits next to you so you can both
get a good laugh. You glance over again, and the person is back working like they were never sleep. That, my friend, is called a microsleep.
Medical News Today defines microsleeps as “short bursts of sleep lasting just a few seconds”, and it is just one of the signs that your Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is catching up with you. As a response to sleep deprivation, microsleeps are uncontrollable. The scary thing is, you may be experiencing a microsleep and not even know it until you can’t remember what you were doing or you begin forgetting your last few moments.
It is incredibly difficult to remain productive at work when you keep taking 0.5-15 second sleep breaks and wake up forgetting what you were doing. Not only is it a disruption to your productivity, but it is extremely dangerous, especially if you commute to work.
Exasperated Mental Health Conditions
The sleep deprivation caused by Revenge Bedtime Procrastination not only has some of the common consequences mentioned in the video above, but years of research has shown that sleep and mood are so intertwined that sleep deprivation can have an exasperating affect on mental health.
Harvard Health Publishing released an article that articulates the psychological effects of sleep deprivation for people who struggle with various mental health conditions. Insomnia and other sleep problems increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety, lessen the responsiveness of treatments, and worsen the symptoms. For people who combat Bipolar disorder, insomnia and other sleep problems can trigger a manic episode. Sleep deprivation can also cause people with ADHD to become “hyperactive, inattentive, and emotionally unstable”.
If you struggle with any of the conditions mentioned above, then you know how it feels when you don’t get enough sleep. You know how any stress you experience during your workday can feel magnified, and cause you to make mistakes or break down at the end of the day. Not all of it can be avoided by getting more sleep, but fighting your urge to give in to Revenge Bedtime Procrastination can definitely make a difference in your everyday work life.
Combat Revenge Bedtime Procrastination
I am sure that none of this comes as a surprise. For some, you’ve probably experienced at least one of these, if not all of them since you’ve started your career. So now that we know how Revenge Bedtime Procrastination can manifest in your everyday work life, it’s time to brainstorm some ways avoid it. Often the issue isn’t that we can’t stay sleep, it’s that we have a hard time going to sleep because we are trying to take back time for ourselves that we lost during the day. So I am about to give you three ways to help fight Revenge Bedtime Procrastination by making sure you don’t forget about YOU during the day.
1. Take a Break… Or Two
One of the first things we learned when we heard the term Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is that often we are willing to sacrifice sleep to avenge for all the time we gave to other tasks and people throughout the day. In corporate America, it can be really difficult to do your hobbies, work a 9-5, tend to your children, make dinner, and also find time for yourself without sacrificing your sleep. However, at some point during your day, it is incredibly important that you schedule time for yourself.
“You-time” is time where you take 10- to 20-minute breaks to commit 100% to something that you want to do. While at work, it would be helpful to put yourself on a productivity schedule. Work for a couple of hours, then take a break. If you work at home, plan a time during the day where everyone in the house participates in an individual activity. That way the kids, your spouse, and most importantly you, have at least 1-1.5 hours to decompress and spend some time doing something for yourselves.
The more you insert yourself in plans throughout the day, the more productive you are at work and home. Time to yourself helps lessen fatigue and increase engagement in whatever you are doing. It also makes it less likely that you will fall victim to Revenge Bedtime Procrastination and spend unnecessary hours avenging your time when you should be sleep.
RELATED ARTICLE: Dear Christine: How Can I Get More Sleep?
2. Say “No”
Sometimes we lay our heads on our pillows at night and recap the day just to realize that we spent a lot of time and stress doing things for other people. Don’t get me wrong. Saying yes shows how much of a good person you are, but it’s also the easier thing to do. Often times, we say yes to other people’s request before we even get a chance to think about the task and how it will interfere with our priorities. Saying no, especially to our favorite people, can feel horrible in the moment, but later you may thank yourself.
If you’re someone who can’t just flat out say no to people tugging on your time, there are other ways to get the message across so you won’t seem rude. Instead of saying no, say:
- “I am sorry, but I can’t do that today.”
- “This is a lot of work. Can we work on this together?”
- “Give me some time to think about it, and I will let you know.”
The most important thing is to make sure that when you say these things, you are clear and firm. Otherwise, people may keep pressing you until you say yes. Another thing to keep in mind is that you do not owe anyone an explanation, especially if they do not ask.
If you are someone who really can’t say no, then it will be really important that you learn to delegate some of your tasks. Everyone has small tasks that don’t really require much skill, but could take hours to complete. You could even begin delegating tasks around the house to your kids and spouse to help free some extra time for you.
3. Get on a Routine
America has a binging problem. Not just any binging problem, but one that affects at least 88% of Americans. Second to family, sleep is a top priority to most adults. However, many find themselves sacrificing sleep to engage in binge behaviors associated with television, books, sports, and video games. This is just another example of how Revenge Bedtime Procrastination manifests in our lives. Often we read articles that emphasize getting on a sleep routine. Believe me, that is incredibly important; however many fail to give advice on HOW to do that while balancing your regular life. So let’s take a second to make this version of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination realistic.
It is 9:48 PM, and you finally have a little space to breathe. You decide to take a seat on your couch and watch a little Game of Thrones because you’re behind. You’ve watched two back-to-back episodes without even noticing because HBO plays the show on a loop. You look at the clock again and it’s 11:59. You didn’t mean to stay up this late, but it’s okay because you get to sleep in before work tomorrow. You brush your teeth and go lie in the bed.
It’s 12:10. You grab your phone to set your alarm, and then you remember the Facebook post you made earlier that day. You want to see if anybody’s commented on it. As soon as you get on Facebook, you forget you were going to look at your post and start browsing.
It’s 1:00 AM. You finally decide to put your phone down, but now you’re so wired up, you toss and turn until you finally go to sleep at 1:43 AM. Next thing you know, it’s 7:00 AM and your alarm is blaring in your ear.
Let’s break down this scenario. For people who love to watch television and surf the web before bed, this one is for you. Streaming apps play shows on a loop because they literally want to loop you in so you keep using their app. When time is winding down, and it is almost time to go to sleep, it is so important that you don’t get sucked in. Instead try doing some of these things:
- Put yourself on a limit of how many episodes you can watch each night
- Download episodes on your device to help control yourself
- Set certain days aside, such as the weekend or an off day to catch up on television or social media time
Since the advent of social media, it has been so easy to lose track of time. TikTok’s continuous loop of videos keeps you watching one video to the next without giving you time to take in your surroundings. Social media is one of the greatest inventions, but we can’t let it control us and our time.
- On your iPhone or Android, limit your screen time and set a bed time. That way you can spend time on your favorite social media sites before bed, but you also have an awareness of the time.
- Turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed
- Only use your bed for sleeping – not for lying down surfing your favorite social media sites
The way you spend your day could be the difference between going to sleep at 10:00 PM or 2:00 AM before having to wake up at 7:30 AM for work. Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is taking over a lot of sleep schedules and causing sleep deprivation that can rear its ugly head all throughout the work day. When combating Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, taking steps may be uncomfortable, but habits become lifestyle changes. In turn, those lifestyle changes help you to live a happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
Sometimes our jobs can be the source of our Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, so if you are looking for a new job, check out the past and current jobs in these different companies.