Revenge Bedtime Procrastination
I read this phrase last week… “revenge bedtime procrastination”… and it was one of those that hit me in the face when I saw it. I knew immediately what it meant, and not just because the name is so self-explanatory… it was because I’ve fucking BEEN there.
I am incredibly lucky in that my days are unstructured now – but it wasn’t always like that.
Those of you who’ve been here for a while, remember that story – the one about how I was so stressed my body tried to shut down and I was hospitalized?
My Old Daily Structure
Well… “revenge bedtime procrastination” was one of those things I was CONSISTENTLY doing on a daily basis back then. I would get up in the morning, scarf down a granola bar, pack up my bag from the night before, get in the car, drive to campus, have a class, go to work, work for a few hours, do client work in between, have another class where I usually ate lunch (yes, in class, I would have a salad), possibly go to my third job after that, go home and shove dinner into my mouth while writing my thesis, rinse, and repeat.
Only, before the “rinsing and repeating” part… there were usually two hours, mostly between about 1:30am and 3:30am, where I was just….. awake.
I knew sleep was what my body needed. I knew I needed to be awake at 7am for the next day. Those were facts, and I was aware of them.
But I couldn’t fucking make myself even get into bed most nights.
And now, I know why.
I felt so out of control of my time during the day, with every single moment scheduled, that even though I KNEW it was harmful, I traded sleep for some much-needed hours to myself. To scroll mindlessly on the internet, or to paint, or to read.
And then my body decided how I’d be spending that time FOR me, because it had enough of my shit. I had no other choice but to figure out how to get “me” time without sacrificing my health, because I’d been sacrificing for a dangerously long time.
I had to reframe my days so that I was getting what I needed, sleep and all.
There wasn’t a choice there for me. I literally couldn’t continue the way I was. I emphasize this so strongly, because if two days before everything changed, someone had told me that I needed to slow down… I would have told them that it was impossible. That there was no way I could eliminate things from my schedule. That there was nothing to give up, nothing I could change. That the walls weren’t closing in, I was easily holding them apart with my pristine level of Type-A organization…
The Walls Weren’t Closing In
Except that was the wrong analogy. The walls weren’t closing in at all. I was on a tight rope. And no matter how strong I was, or how organized, losing your balance is a lot fucking easier when you’re exhausted.
Living in a post-covid world is weird as fuck, I’m not going to pretend that it’s not. And I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy to figure out where things need to change for you to give your body what it needs, when homeschooling, furlough, lockdowns, and travel bans are still restricting our circumstances.
But I promise, no matter how impossible carving time out for yourself feels, I know from experience that it is a million times easier than the potential alternative. That being, to be clear, a slow decline into your body making your choices for you.
So if you feel yourself falling into this – pretend it’s NOT impossible to change it. Take yourself out of that mindset, just for a moment. Ask yourself, what has to happen so that you get the time for you that you need? Is this theoretical thing within your power? Does it mean asking for support from your partner? From family? Or maybe it means changing your schedule, shifting your priorities. Changing habits, in your finances, or your diet… Maybe it means all of those things – it sure as hell did for me.
I’m not asking you to change it right this second, because I know exactly how damn hard that is. It sounds dramatic, but I AM asking you to think about it. Because even though it might not right this second – eventually… your life might depend on it.