The Psychology of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

The Psychology of Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Ness Labs, 2021

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Do you often stay up late watching TV or mindlessly scrolling through social media when you ought to be getting some shut-eye? When work, chores and other responsibilities take over your life, delaying bedtime offers a feeling of control. Ultimately, however, “revenge bedtime procrastination” diminishes your well-being: Less sleep leaves you more irritable, impairs your decision-making abilities and hurts your overall health. Neuroscience buff Anne-Laure Le Cunff examines the root cause of this human foible and offers simple habits you can employ to improve your sleep and quality of life.


Intentionally forgoing sleep is a common human foible.

Picture the scene: You’ve had an agonizingly long day at work. Your body aches. You plan to go home, eat, shower and head straight to bed. Yet hours later, you find yourself in front of the TV, scrolling mindlessly through social media on your phone, at the expense of a good night’s sleep. What happened?

Individuals tend to delay bedtime to regain a sense of control over their lives.

Everyone experiences late nights now and again due to forces beyond their control – a sick child or an unexpected call for help from a friend, for example. But when you retire for the night later than intended, for no logical reason, while wholly aware that your antics will shortchange...

About the Author

Anne-Laure Le Cunff is the founder of Ness Labs, a consultancy that focuses on wellness, creativity and culture in business. She studies neuroscience at King’s College London.

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