I feel like there is so little time in the week where I can just do whatever I feel like. There are always kids to be cared for, meals to plan and make, work to be done. Sometimes I can feel like I am just going from one demand to the next all day long. Then at night when I really should go to bed I stay up an extra 30 minutes to an hour messing around on my phone simply because it is quiet and nobody is bothering me and I can. I’m not staying up super late but it is late enough to make me seriously regret the previous night’s pointless Wikipedia reading and YouTube watching when I wake up the following morning.
I recently learned there’s a popularised term for this behaviour: revenge bedtime procrastination - a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours1.
I was glad to find my experience was universal, and hoped I’d be able to find some advice on how to stop this behaviour. Unfortunately, most of the advice is unhelpful for someone who is genuinely lacking agency and free time in their life. It has the same flavour as a lot of advice for mothers. “Mums, feeling frustrated with the lack of time for yourself? Have you considered making some time for yourself? I know, wake up at 5am2! Problem solved. Case closed. No need to thank me”.
So this is how I’m going to try to fix this new undesirable habit I’ve formed.
- Have a hard deadline at night for screens off - 8:30pm. This is going to be a challenge to stick to, but it is also the key as my procrastination always takes the form of getting stuck on the phone and/or computer. The goal will be to be in bed by 9pm but I think I can be flexible in that as long as I’m doing bedtime-routine style activities after 8:30.
- If I’ve reached the end of the day and I have to-dos that must be done - preparing food so my family can eat comes to mind - rather than stay up late to get it done I will get up extra early the next morning. I’m still eating in to the sleep hours but I’m much quicker at basically everything in the AM than the PM. As well as much less likely to procrastinate and waste time.
That’s all I’ve got so far. I’m basically doing my best to cut out the triggers for the habit. If I find I’m still procrastinating rather than going to bed I’ll need to come up with a better strategy. Hopefully, this will be enough.