A few weeks ago I found an article about “revenge bedtime procrastination”. It’s when we stay up late for no reason, usually scrolling our phones or Netflixing. The kicker they mentioned though was that we do these things “past the point that it feels good.”
When I saw the article, I knew what they were talking about, but reading about the reason why we typically do this was eye-opening.
I’ll share a personal example from just a few weeks ago! Tyler had been sick and in bed all weekend so I was pulling double duty with the girls and cooking (he normally cooks, bless him) as well as taking care of our patient. By the time the girls went down to sleep, I decided to indulge in some Netflix and watched Married at First Sight. ( 🙈 I made it tiny in hopes you can’t read it.)
I had never seen the show until a few weeks ago on another late night binge which ended with me denouncing ever watching it again. Which I didn’t until this night. And I mean, by 9:30 I only had like two episodes left and I was dying to see how it ended, then there was the reunion. How could I not find out where they are now or what they thought of the show? So there I am around midnight, watching a show while multitasking on my phone (so I’m at least a little productive 😜). Know what I felt? Crummy.
When I crawled into bed after my bath and shutting down the house around 1 AM, the thought of waking up early stressed me out. That 5 AM wake up call so I could spend my two beloved quiet hours of reading my Bible, praying, reading books or working out went up in flames.
When it’s night time, I am not thinking about the effects of later. I’m instead feeling like I deserve this downtime.
In the article, they mentioned the reason we do this is usually when we don’t feel we have much control over our day. We essentially “refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.” 😮
Yikes! It sounds so defiant and destructive, all because I wish I was my own boss over my choices. It unfortunately sounds exactly like what I was doing after two days of more demands and less down time.
The article offered some hope but for Christians, we have even more. We aren’t seeking ultimate control. We can rest in the fact that God is in control. That doesn’t automatically make us make wise choices but at least for me, it helped me see those late night moments for what they were: me wanting to be “god” over my own life and forgetting about the fruit of self-control.
That might sound like a big leap and a bit over-spiritualizing and maybe it is, but one source from the article mentioned those late nights leading to panic attacks. I wasn’t surprised to read this. I had an epically awful night of sleep after cramming that much “world” in my brain.
A few days after, feeling very motivated to change things, I made a point to practice a little self-control knowing a binge-night would not satisfy and instead followed my night routine. (I’m actually blogging my night routine in a few weeks, so don’t miss that if this post is resonating. You can even sign up to get an email when new blog posts come out here.) No surprise, I slept the best I had in a while. AND the next day was one of the best in a while too. I got up early with plenty of time to study the Bible and pray and even hit the gym which gave me energy and honestly boosted my mood for the rest of the day. It was a far cry from hitting snooze a thousand times, waking up with the girls and stumbling through my morning.
I know this won’t happen every night though, so I want to set up a game plan and share with y’all some ideas that may help us make better decisions when night falls.
1. Get to the root of where you feel out of control.
Is it your work day that’s micromanaged by a demanding boss? Kids under foot that seem to make the rules? A chronic illness that takes over? Ask God to reveal those areas that have you feeling like you deserve the indulgence of staying up late and forgetting all the side effects that come with it. Ultimately, we need to acknowledge that God is in control, but we have so many choices in our day. We want to recognize what we do get to choose in those moments leading up to late nights that might be perfect opportunities to chill out.
2. Wind down your mind in a healthy way.
This might be journaling, writing out some gratitudes, or going through the Examen prayer. My friend Gretchen uses her prayer journal, not during her quiet time, but before bed to calm her mind and set her heart on truth. We’ve both struggled with anxiety and I can tell you from personal experience that spending a few moments in God’s presence helps me more rationally approach the things that cause me fear. I think picking a prayer from Springboard Prayers every night would be a great habit to help unwind in a healthy way.
3. Figure out when you need to put up your phone to actually do it well
I normally put my phone up before dinner. I used to do it right when the girls went to bed but I found I’d justify just a little scroll and never got back up from the couch. When I do it before dinner, it’s an easy choice to put the phone up and then I have people waiting on me so I don’t accidentally get sucked in.
4. Have better boundaries when you do want to watch TV.
- Set the sleep timer on your TV for a reasonable time. I honestly forgot these existed until about 10 minutes ago. I was thinking “What if TV’s could have timers like Instagram now has or apps can have on computers?” Ummmm. Then I remembered my parent’s TV when I was a kid had that so they could fall asleep without it staying on too long.
- If a timer doesn’t work and you trust yourself to keep your phone around later in the night, text a friend who struggles with the same thing and tell them to text you back in an hour. Sometimes we can rationalize with ourselves that it’s fine this time but a friend can be a voice of reason especially if they struggle with it too! Forward this blog post to a few friends and I’m sure you’ll find an accountability partner real quick!
If you get enough sleep and still struggle getting up in the morning for time with the Lord, check out this post with these 8 tips!
I honestly can’t share this post without sharing a joke from Seinfeld that I immediately thought of as I studied this topic. Jerry was on to something.
I never get enough sleep. I stay up late at night, cause I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late. ‘What about getting up after five hours sleep?’, oh that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem, I’m Night Guy. I stay up as late as I want. So you get up in the morning, you’re alarm, you’re exhausted, groggy, oooh I hate that Night Guy! See, Night Guy always screws Morning Guy. There’s nothing Morning Guy can do. The only Morning Guy can do is try and oversleep often enough so that Day Guy loses his job and Night Guy has no money to go out anymore.
How will you make sure “Morning Gal” is ready for the day? Would love to hear your own thoughts and ideas!
Great article. One thing I have done, was I removed my e-mail account, facebook and instagram apps from my phone. We have never had cable, Netflix, Amazon Prime,or anything like that. We watch reruns on YouTube or a DVD on a lap top computer and quite at 9:30 pm. If we are in the middle of a program we pause it and finish it another evening. We decided 39 years ago when we got married that we wouldn’t allow the TV to control us. It hasn’t always been easy, but setting that boundary early on has helped us as things have become available in so many different ways over the last 39 years.
That is a great boundary and so powerful that y’all are committed to doing that together! Built in accountability for sure!!
So good! Thank you for sharing!!
I have found that practicing Sabbath regularly has helped me too. When I didn’t Sabbath, I would take “rest” whenever I craved it. But it didn’t satisfy, and it never felt like enough. I think of my week purely as work time. Not just for my employment. But my job, my family, my tending of our common life together, my ministry – all of it is work, and I give my weekdays to it. And I keep a Sabbath “bucket list” throughout the week so that when I get to my rest day, it’s full of a bunch of fun things I can do, without guilt! Then the same activity feels restful, when if I had done that activity when I had other responsibilities during the week, or when I should have been sleeping, it doesn’t feel restful.
Thankful we serve a God that is serious about rest and play, but also gives us a lot of purposeful work to do.
I did not even think about Sabbath like that but you are soooo right!! When we truly refresh on trust God with that day, it’s like we reset and refuel for all the ways we serve throughout the week! Thanks for mentioning this! I hope it encourages others like it did me!!