Ever heard of this concept, revenge bedtime procrastination? Apparently I’m SO not in the know.
The other day I was catching up with one of my very oldest and dearest friends. We both have toddlers so… living a pretty shared experience in terms of all things toddler-parent-life. If you’ve been there or are there, you know.
So he brings up this term and I’m outed. I don’t know what the heck this refers to but I’m pretty sure I’m experiencing it. Apparently it’s a direct translation from Mandarin (some sources say Japanese, so don’t quote me) meaning this:
When you feel life is so busy and fast and your hours are so full that to get revenge on that (seemingly socially-imposed) lack of free time, you on-purpose eat into your sleeping hours as a way of ‘buying back’ some you-time. My translation from dictionary terms to everyday ones? You put the kids to bed, often to bed again a few times over (staller kids anyone?) and then after the dishes and whatever else is done, you designate the next few hours to Netflix. Or to working on your side hustle biz. Or to endless YouTube bloopers.
But it’s not like you get to sleep in the next day. It’s not like your work or life demands care that you got to bed late. So all that ends up happening is you’re tired as hell the next day. Unfortunately that fatigue isn’t enough to stop the next night’s quiet rebellion. And, even more unfortunately, your poor body and brain are the only ones that feel the brunt of it. Ain’t no free time ‘won’ this way, friends. I’m talking to myself too, trust me. Guilty.
So… my friend explains this term, and how he’s equally guilty… and I have a mini revelation. All the things that I used to get done and which gave me balance and brought me joy were things I set aside time for in the early morning hours. A conclusion I came to long ago – if I wanted to fit in exercise or yoga or breathwork or meditation on any kind of consistent basis, I’d have to do so before my day got started. Before my angel wakes.
Not sure where along the lines I started forgetting. But slowly, surely, I did. And I started getting my evening revenge as, it seems, did others.
So this weekend, I went for a looooong walk on the trails. I committed to shake this up. To wake up and get conscious about my time and my choices re: how I allot those 24 hours. Some of it is outside of my control, sure, but certainly not all of it.
Here’s a truth: nothing (outside of a newborn or child who needs you!) is worth sacrificing your sleep over. Eating into your sufficient-sleep hours will ultimately bring you down – and it won’t take long. If I want to include the daily practices that keep me well, I’ll have to dial back my bedtime… enough. Check in on how many hours you really need to feel your best, mark the hour you need to wake to get in your self-care without rushing, and subtract until you get your goal bedtime. Do the simple math.
Why not join me, and stop the automaton that says you need to watch three more episodes or catch up on people’s lives via scrolling social? Take back the reins.
Pretty grateful that I heard this term when I did. When you can name it, when you become aware of it, you can change it. Only then.