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“Bedtime Revenge Procrastination Eater” is a term I’ve coined that seems to perfectly fit what many of my clients struggle with.
Bedtime Revenge Procrastination is a previously known phenomenon described by journalist Daphne K Lee as when “people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours.”
This can look different for individuals, but a common theme I’ve noticed is the use of food to procrastinate going to bed. When we feel a sense of purposelessness, unhappiness, overwhelming stress, and lack of excitement during our day, we turn to food in an attempt to fill that internal void.
When eating delicious high-calorie and sugary foods, we get hits of dopamine and serotonin—what are often considered the “happy hormones.”
It’s not surprising that with over 90 percent of our serotonin receptors found in our gut that we naturally turn to food to change our mood.
Of course, food cannot make up for the lack of autonomy we have over our day, and rather, the sleep disruption of staying up late can cause even more lack of freedom.
If we are waking up at 6 a.m., in order to get 7.5 hours of sleep (5 cycles), we should be going to bed at 10:15 p.m. Many of us, formerly myself included, won’t be going to bed until much later at night, and find ourselves mindlessly snacking in front of the TV.
This is an issue because sleep is vital for regulating our hormone levels, especially those related to our hunger and appetite (leptin and ghrelin). As a result, we end up eating more food throughout the day and into the night without satisfaction.
Then we scold and shame ourselves for our “bad” eating habits, “self-sabotage,” and vow to get “back on track” the next day. But as you can see, food is not the problem; it’s the symptom of an underlying problem.
Our body is highly intelligent and will use things like food as a coping mechanism as it sees fit if it doesn’t believe the real problem (lack of autonomy over our day leading to feeling purposeless) is being dealt with.
What I always say to clients is that self-sabotage is really self-protection.
I invite you to get curious about what is causing you to stay up late; what is the internal need that is not being met?
As you contemplate this, I have another step for you.
Take out your phone and set reminders or silent alarms for you to go to bed.
For example, here is what mine looks like for me to get up at 5:30 a.m. to head to Crossfit.
>> 8:30 p.m.: get ready for bed
>> 9:00 p.m.: read
>> 9:30 p.m.: lights out
>> 9:45 p.m.: asleep
As a Science-Based Intuitive Eating Coach, I am all about actionable and results-driving tools!
These simple reminders are a great pattern interrupt that will help you to regulate your sleep routine.
With that said, happy Zzzzz!