Drinking a never-ending stream of coffee, taking quick catnaps on my lunch break or when my kids are watching TV, and feeling tired basically all the time — these are all things I choose to endure in order to steal a few precious minutes to myself each evening, when I should be sound asleep in bed. It’s a working-parent-during-a-pandemic mood, amirite?
Recently, I learned that this habit of staying up late and feeling super tired the next day, only to do it all over again, actually has a name: revenge bedtime procrastination! TikToker Sam DeMase (@apowermood), a career confidence coach based in New York, explains in the video above that revenge bedtime procrastination may be a sign that you’re feeling burned out at your job — but for me and I’m sure countless others, it may also just mean that you’re generally overwhelmed.
Why do we throw ourselves into this vicious cycle? According to DeMase, you may stay up really late after a long day “because you are craving that free time and time you can spend doing whatever you want.” She goes on to explain that many people, especially those whose workdays are “filled with a lot of negative energy,” would rather sacrifice sleep and risk feeling tired the next day if it means they get some happier time to themselves. Essentially, it’s an opportunity to take back some control, at the expense of your sleep (and therefore, your health).
Although DeMase specifically references job burnout, I’ve fallen victim to revenge bedtime procrastination throughout the pandemic, while watching my toddlers and simultaneously working from home, and navigating the everyday stress of COVID-19 and an anxiety disorder. I’ve literally started movies at 10:30 p.m. on a Monday night, or gotten all ready for bed, slipped under the covers, and read a steamy romance novel until 2 a.m. This is my time to not have to take care of kids, not have to answer emails, not have to take care of the house, or my dog, or my clients, or think about anything except me. And yes, it does make the next day harder.
It makes me feel somewhat better to know that this behavior has a name and that it’s actually pretty normal — but because revenge bedtime procrastination is a sign of burnout, I’m going to try to find other ways to take care of myself that don’t involve sacrificing sleep. Maybe some nights my husband puts the kids to bed on his own, so I can spend more time reading before my own bedtime. We’re all just figuring out how to survive right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find happiness in the daylight hours, too. And if you find yourself still struggling at night? Well, just know you’re not alone. We’ll get through this one cup of coffee at a time.