What is ‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’ and how to manage it?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in a recent interview to The Wall Street Journal, revealed that he unwinds using non-sleep deep rest, or NSDR.
The term, coined by Stanford University's Professor of Neuroscience, Andrew Huberman, denotes NSDR involves "self-inducing a state of calm and directing our focus to something." According to him, NSDR can help people relax, fall asleep more easily, reduce stress and anxiety, ease pain, and even accelerate learning.
Be it a corporate head-honcho like Pichai or an employee, everyone wants to unwind after a tiring long day at work. But instead of sleeping, do you start scrolling on social media or stay awake binge-watching shows, even when you have an early morning start the next day?
Well, you're not alone.
This phenomenon is called 'Revenge Bedtime Procrastination', says Ruchi Aggarwal, founder of Mentoresult, an online learning and 1:1 mentorship platform for students and professionals.
Increasingly, corporate employees are dealing with their high-stress jobs by sacrificing their sleep for late-night recreation. While those few hours of fun can help them feel in control of our workday, continuous delay in a reasonable bedtime can create health issues.
“Sleep deprivation is the biggest risk. In our high-stress lifestyles, revenge bedtime procrastination can become a vicious cycle. A stressful day can cause more late-night recreation, causing less sleep, causing more stress. This can seriously compromise long-term wellness. It’s crucial to be mindful of how we spend time our time before we go to bed, and focus on managing revenge bedtime procrastination,” says Aggarwal.
In her own experience, Aggarwal found that the more stressful her day is, the more she wants to mindlessly scroll on social media at night. “And often, stressful days are when I need my sleep the most!”
Aggarwal shares the following ways to manage this habit.
Identifying our stress trigger: Why are we stressed? Why do we need a distraction? Often, a small incident from the day or a minor meeting from the next day is on our minds. When I actively look for a trigger, I often discover something that’s easy to manage. But letting it simmer in our subconscious can be dangerous.
Unwinding vs doomscrolling: While it's nice to decompress using some version of social media, our pre-sleep activities should help us relax rather than add to our stress. I found that curating my social media with positive content (art, nature, jokes) improved my ability to relax compared to overly negative content.
Taking time off in the day: If we know that we won't get time to ourselves, we will be compelled to delay bedtime. By having some downtime every day, we eliminate the incentive to delay sleep. In my experience, it's not possible to postpone daily fun to the weekends - you need something to motivate you during the workweek too.
“As a night owl myself, I have often found it difficult to go to bed on time, but I strive to minimise bedtime procrastination triggered by negativity rather than a conscious positive choice,” she adds.
These practices can be a game-changer, improving positivity towards the next day while still relieving one’s exhaustion from the past day.
“In the absence of stress, late nights can be a source of enormous productivity. So stay up late, just not as revenge on bedtime !,” says Aggarwal.