” Revenge Bedtime Procrastination”. This is why you couldn’t sleep (early) at night.

Sakthitharan S
4 min readMar 28, 2023

Scrolling on your phone while you on bed, searching and browsing the internet for a better way to accomplish what you want, looking for better motivations at night, and also wandering the net aimlessly, all these are attributed to your guilt that you didn’t accomplish your goal of the day.

You’re not able to sleep immediately when you hop to bed because of one of the following reasons.

  1. Inability to complete your goal of the day (even if the reason for not completing your tasks of the day is genuine).
  2. You are not satisfied with the output you gave out to the world.
  3. You didn’t do any job that makes a (positive) impact.
  4. Stress from work. The day didn’t go as you expected or planned.
  5. You feel worthless. You feel ashamed of your efforts not converted into a product (productivity not happened).
  6. Feeling that you’re working in a job that is not aligned with your passion or strength.
  7. There’s no autonomy for you to work on your tasks at your own pace.
  8. You failed to work on your tasks rather than worked on tasks assigned to you which are priorities of others.
  9. You feel stuck and confused as you don’t know what to change in your methods of approaching the day.
  10. You have a lot on your task list, but nothing gets completed. You see a lot of postponed tasks and get the feeling of failure.
  11. Lot of your ideas stayed as ideas and never materialized.

And the reasons go on similar to the above. But it all boils down to two things.

Either the day didn’t go as planned or expected or you didn’t do anything as planned for the day.

So, the “Guilt of wasted day-time”.

If you don’t achieve in the day, you want to compensate them by doing two things at night.

  1. Randomly browsing for ideas, methods, and shortcuts hoping they may help or aimlessly scrolling your social feeds just to avoid the sense of guilt.
  2. You start to work on instead of embracing the bed and working through the night.

Most people fall for the former one.

Aimlessly doing things until they fall asleep. To put it right, “aimlessly doing things hoping that they get good sleep later”.

Falling to sleep = closing the day. Sleep is the final task of the day. In that sense, you don’t want to shut down without completing a few tasks. But in reality, you don’t attempt to do the task but wander away to avoid the sense of guilt.

Completing your goals of the day gives you a sense of accomplishment. Which in turn produces some “happy” hormones in your brain. This makes you feel satisfied, relevant, and confident.

Those who feel satisfied fall asleep immediately. Those who have the “guilt” of not doing their part up to the measure of their satisfaction level, they struggle to sleep.

This entire psychological phenomenon is termed as “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination”

How to avoid falling into “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination”?

Fix a goal for the day that is perfectly achievable or completable within the first half of the day. Choose the number of tasks you want to complete even if the day becomes overwhelming, tightly scheduled, or prone to change when other priorities enter unannounced.

The sweet number of tasks falls between 2 to 6. Depending on the size of the tasks (time it requires to complete, energy it needed, quality of the output) fix a number.

Now work on these tasks first thing in the morning. It is better to fix or plan the tasks the previous day or evening. It is also fine to plan in the early morning if you don’t find it difficult to choose the priorities among your list of tasks.

You may have 100 tasks (which is a mess) but you can only have up to 6 tasks as a goal for the day.

Start small. Completing the target of the day gives you confidence, satisfaction, and everything you need for a good night’s sleep.

I am doing “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination” now. How to avoid it if the day goes bad?

My first recommendation is not to let the day ruin your night. Fix minimal targets the next day. This is the first, actionable, and effective step to avoid “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination” altogether.

Yet, for those who face this issue now, the only thing I found working to escape this trap is Journaling. Yes, just writing it down is the simple and most effective solution.

It is better to use your pen and paper, but typing on your phone is also fine if you committed to only using the app for journaling and nothing else until you put down your phone.

Now open a blank page (any journaling app is fine, any notes app is fine). Write down what you did for the day (for yourself and the world). Where things went beyond the plan. How you were interrupted.

Eventually, you need to focus on finding reasons, how your work impacted, and how much of your work contributed to the world, to your company, and to your friends. Focus on the positive things that happened on that day.

Cultivate gratitude feeling. If not at least fake it. This piece of advice looks philosophical, but it is pure science. Thank you for the good day many times in your writing.

Writing streamlines your thought. Your thoughts won’t wander now. You’re focused now. You find good reasons that you can be proud of or in the worst case, you find the real reasons that didn’t work.

Whatever the case, you either get relief by knowing you have done something or get clarity to approach the next day. Both help good sleep.


Happy sleeping. Happy successful day.