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Revenge Procrastination

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Returning Volunteer writer Rebecca Pearson informs us on ‘revenge procrastination’ and what it means about our work-life balance. 

It’s nearly midnight and, although you feel tired, you’ve been scrolling through your phone for the last hour. Yes, your eyes may be closing – they may be laser-red with tiredness – but no matter how hard you try, you can’t bring yourself to actually go to bed. Dreaded procrastination has long been around as an addictive and self-destructive behaviour – most notable for thieving Uni students of submitting their deadlines on-time. But recently, it is that of revenge procrastination which has been thrown into the spotlight.

‘Revenge procrastination’, also known as sleep or bedtime procrastination, describes the desire to sacrifice sleep in exchange for more leisure time – regardless of how tired you may feel. For employees in high-stress jobs, students who may feel bombarded by their workload, or anyone who doesn’t receive a suitable amount of enjoyment or breaks in their day-to-day lives, revenge procrastination is considered a way of making back this lost time.

Whilst revenge procrastination sounds like a smart way in which our bodies are adapting to the demands of a modern lifestyle, it actually conjures up its own detrimental impacts to our overall health and well-being. Sleep deprivation itself can lead to increased stress on the body, it hinders the body’s ability to repair itself, it can result in an increased irritability during the day, and it can also trigger increased levels of ghrelin (the hormone that makes us hungry) which leads to an increased appetite.

But revenge procrastination actually says more about our working habits than it says about us. If our everyday gratification is lacking, and the expectations of our working lives are too high, then even sleep can’t provide the sense of fulfilment that we need. Revenge procrastination has been found to be higher in students, anyone that experiences significant daytime stress, but also anyone with extended working hours. The latter is likely linked to COVID-19, where orders to ‘stay at home’ have resulted in increased working hours and less escape from the working world. Revenge procrastination could also signify the human need for social interaction – and, where this has not been possible due to the pandemic – it has been compensated for by scrolling through social media, or staying up late on Netflix in a bid to repair this lack of social engagement.

The Sleep Foundation recommends keeping consistent with bed and wake-up times as the main way to develop a more stable routine. However, this is likely easier said than done without any changes also coming from the way we live our lives on a daily basis. Since procrastination is tricky, and even somewhat enjoyable, tackling it and stamping out its habits can be a patience-testing process.

Edited by Izzie Naish – News Editor

Header designed by Annabel Smith – Deputy Head of Design

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