Have you ever seen a social media post which reads something like, “It’s 2 a.m. and I can’t go to sleep?” When I do, I’m always tempted to comment something like, …
Have you ever seen a social media post which reads something like, “It’s 2 a.m. and I can’t go to sleep?” When I do, I’m always tempted to comment something like, “Put the social media down.” The following might help explain what’s going on with people who keep engaging their brains late at night on their smartphones, tablets, televisions, etc., and find themselves sleep deprived.
“Revenge bedtime procrastination” is a fairly recent phenomenon which gained a stronghold on many more of us with the COVID-19 plague and the associated government directives (e.g., shelter in place, etc.) However, one can’t really blame the government or the plague on this particular habit/diagnosis which carries grave consequences. No, the blame falls directly on each one of us who do it. Most of us know this, but we forge ahead to our own demise.
James 4:17 says, “Those who know the good they ought to do and don’t do it sin (paraphrased).” So, the Bible labels intentional wrongdoing as sinful. This would apply anytime we knowingly neglect taking care of ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. I suggest to you that if you are engaged in revenge bedtime procrastination, you are sinning.
What is revenge bedtime procrastination?
Some people read terms new to them and use their search engine on their smartphone to find out. You might be one who started reading this column, saw the term revenge bedtime procrastination, and looked up what it meant then followed the rabbit trail. This is not necessarily a bad habit unless you’re ebbing away at your needed sleep time while following such rabbit trails on your phone.
Recently, I was in a car with someone when there was no cellular service. It became clear to me this person wasn’t interested in having a conversation with me — the only other person in the car. The elephant in the room presented itself clearly when said person kept mindlessly scrolling social media which had no new posts and blank images because there was no cellular service. In other words, this person was so entrenched with the idea of being on the phone, they preferred that over a personal conversation, even when there wasn’t anything to read or look at on their phone.
We’ve all noticed this kind of thing. People in line at stores by themselves will often quickly pull out their phone and start scrolling or texting. People in waiting rooms or otherwise out in public seem glued to their phones, oblivious to what’s going on around them. Middle school and high school students either sleep or stay glued to their phones while on the school bus. Families and friends out in restaurants right across from each other aren’t talking, but they’re on their phones, sitting next to people they care about, but isolating themselves by their behaviors.
I enjoy taking self defense classes. I’ve noticed a recent trend in new self defense classes. They now emphasize “self-awareness” more than ever because people out in public are often glued to their screens (phone, tablets, etc.), and oblivious to their surroundings. So, they teach in self-defense classes to not be glued to your phones.
In revenge bedtime procrastination people stay so busy during the daytime, they feel like they need to have some “me time” at night. The recent phenomenon is that they’ll go to bed, but then as they know they should go to sleep, they instead decide to check emails, texts, news, social media or play games. The next thing you know, an hour, two, or three has passed. They knowingly create health risks by staying up on their phones for no good reason.
The term bedtime procrastination was first used in 2014 by Dutch social and behavioral scientist, Floor M. Kroese. She gave bedtime procrastination the following definition: “First, falling asleep is actively delayed. Second, there is a lack of a valid reason for staying up late. And third, there is an awareness that putting off bedtime could have negative consequences.”
“Presumably, the word ‘revenge’ was added in China because, with an intense work week — employees often work 72 hours per week — going to bed late is the only way to retain control over one’s life. Staying up late is, in a sense, ‘revenge’ for not being able to do things during the day.” – The Scientific American, July 19, 2022
As several studies suggest, revenge bedtime procrastination is a widespread and worldwide phenomenon. Some who are currently reading this column are right in the middle of their own self-imposed negative behavior of revenge bedtime procrastination. It could even be called “self-torture.”
From the beginning of time God knew He would need to motivate people to get their needed rest. He certainly didn’t need to rest after creating the universe, but He did it to set an example for us to set aside a chunk of time on a regular basis to get needed rest. The book of Hebrews even uses this “sabbath rest” as a precursor to heaven itself for those who choose to live for Christ on earth.
Jesus definitely had different ideas than the religious leaders of His day concerning resting. His critics believed God required their extra rules for a day of rest. Yet, Jesus actually set a great example of going off to remote places by Himself and with His disciples, repeatedly, for rest. It is absolutely a necessary thing for each one of us.
Most of us know that sleep deprivation shortens our lifespans and leads to a multitude of other health risks. Continued sleep deprivation absolutely causes health problems. So, it behooves us to do better if we know we are not getting enough sleep.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we are not at our best mentally or emotionally. When we don’t get enough sleep, we hurt ourselves physically and I would argue we hurt ourselves mentally and spiritually as well.
Can you relate? Do you find yourself staying up too late on your smartphone, computer, tablet, or television? Do you realize the self torture in which you are engaged?
So, let’s stop with the revenge bedtime procrastination. When it’s time to go to bed, put the screens away or turn them off. Don’t stimulate the brain more when it’s time to shut down for the night lest we intentionally hurt ourselves, mentally, physically and emotionally.
“In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.” – James 4:17, MSG
Pastor Jeff Adams is a longtime community leader, victim advocate, counselor and chaplain. He ministers internationally, nationally and locally. His column appears online periodically and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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