The coronavirus pandemic forced many of us to blur the lines between work-life and home life. And, it turns out taking our jobs home with us can have a significant impact on oursleep. One study that looked at the sleeping patterns across 12 countries in 2020 found that as much as 40% of people suffered from disrupted sleep, including sleep procrastination and avoidance.
But what is revenge sleep procrastination, and how can we reclaim healthy sleeping habits now that lockdown is over?
What is revenge sleep procrastination?
Even if you aren’t familiar with the term revenge sleep procrastination, you might have experienced it before, especially if you’re the type to check your work email at 11pm. The Sleep Foundation defines this sleepless phenomenon as ‘the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time.’
If you’re working in a high-stress job that eats into your leisure time, you may often find yourself turning to sleep procrastination in order to find some time to relax and wind down, resulting in reduced hours of shut-eye. It may seem tempting at the time to sit on your phone at midnight and travel down the social media rabbit hole, but you know you’ll be paying for it the next day.
However, where revenge sleep procrastination differs from the average accidental late night is the feelings of frustration that lay behind it. Sabrina Romanoff, Psy.D., clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told SELF: ‘Folks are more likely to engage in revenge bedtime procrastination if they perceive themselves to have little regulation over their leisure time.’
This is especially applicable during the pandemic because the border between work and home life is distorted, so work responsibilities tend to bleed into home life, and schedules become less binding.
While it’s no crime to need a few hours to yourself at the end of the day, revenge sleep procrastination can lead to a reduction in your overall sleep time. This, in turn, can cause sleep deprivation which impacts our physical and mental health both in the short and long term.
How to change your sleep procrastination habits
Finding time for yourself can be challenging, especially when your work/home balance has been thrown out the window. However, if revenge sleep procrastination is ruining your nights, you may need to consider changing your routine. Here are a few things you can do that will help you reclaim your healthy sleeping patterns.
Make sure you finish work at a specific time every day
Even if you have urgent projects or your managers expect you to be responsive at all times, setting boundaries between your work and home life is essential for your mental health and sleep. So, instead of staying late to get everything done, create an alarm to finish at the same time every day and stick to it.
Set yourself a bedtime
It may sound a bit juvenile, but setting yourself a strict bedtime can help ensure you get enough hours of shut-eye. And, once in bed, try giving yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep before you turn to your phone.
Try relaxing nighttime activities
Instead of watching Netflix or scrolling endlessly through TikTok, try meditating reading a good book. These activities aren’t only relaxing, but they can help get the body ready for sleep.
Consider seeing a therapist
While you may not exactly be suffering from insomnia, a therapist can help you process any attitudes towards your working and sleeping habits that could be getting in the way of rest.