Dealing With Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

How to confront the gatekeeper of your conscious and unconscious self.

Sean Kernan

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Sleep is a torturous affair for many of us. We want to stay awake when we’re awake, and stay asleep when we’re asleep. It is that pesky transition that gets us, that stubborn gatekeeper between both realms of consciousness that urges us to stay.

In college, I saw sleep as a disruptive event, a treachery against fun and I put it off as long as possible. This, despite having a full class load and grueling training schedule on the swim team.

The consequences to my health were fairly immediate. I’ve never been more tired than I was at this time in my life. It got so bad that during class, I figured out a pose where I rested my forehead on my hand and had a pencil the other so that it looked like I was working, even though my eyes were closed, as I wandered magical fields with purple goats and talking trees. My body broke down. I became moody and snappy. My grades plummeted. I swam slower and became forgetful.

Six weeks into this foolish experiment, I returned to a normal sleep schedule — and was amazed as my quality of life soared upwards. Every important touchpoint in my life improved.

Years went on and I was mostly good with my sleep schedule until my finance career picked up. I stayed at the office later, and barely found time to exercise and make food when I got home. All of my hobbies were pushed to the wayside and I felt like I had no chance to get things done.

And yet again, I fell into this nasty habit of putting off sleep. I saw it as an opportunity to reclaim time and relax more. What would an hour or two matter anyways? Unfortunately, it started to add up and history repeated itself. The moodiness returned. I yawned all day, and coworkers barbed me, asking if I’d been out partying all night. My alarm started hitting way harder. Worst of all, my work performance slipped and I got my first bad performance review.

Sure enough, when I corrected my sleep, I was firing on all cylinders, feeling like a million bucks. It was all so painfully simple.

I’d fallen victim to revenge bedtime procrastination, which describes people’s tendency to carve into…

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Sean Kernan

Writer and writing instructor. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.