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Mumsomnia aka revenge bedtime procrastination and how to overcome it

Zariah Kale

Zariah Kale

Zariah is a writer, history nerd, amateur chef and mum of three. When she is not negotiating screen time with one of her two tweens, or falling asleep during movies, you'll find her scouring vintage shops for one-of-a-kind pieces or apologising to friends for the "late reply" over text.
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 6 mins read

It’s 7 p.m. As a mum of three, I can’t wait for my kids to go to bed. My plans after my youngest, who is four, is dreaming of whatever four-year-olds dream of—dinosaurs, cars, and giant trucks—should consist of getting some shut-eye myself.

However, lately, they have not. In fact, with every passing day, falling asleep at the same time as my child is something that hardly ever happens.

Instead, I stay awake. The bags under my eyes beg for some beauty sleep, while my tired muscles crave the relaxation of REM,  but do I give in?

Oh no. I yawn and know very well I will regret my decision tomorrow morning, but do I shut off my phone? Nope.

Why? Because I have what researchers have termed, ‘mumsonia,’ aka ‘Revenge bedtime procrastination.’

What is Mumsomnia, aka “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?”

Mumsonia? It sounds like a joke, right? Well, I thought it was something I made up. After all, I just wanted some time on my phone or iPad without anyone’s interference.

I wanted to watch a few episodes of ‘Friends,” that new movie on Netflix, or just scroll through my Instagram feed and catch up on the world.

But one episode turns into three, and there’s no end to scrolling through the reels. It turns out most of the mum-terms like mumsonia, mum bod, and mum brain have scientific research to back them up.

And mumsonia, also known as “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination,” is as real as it gets. (Although it is a recent phenomenon.)

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is a behaviour pattern noticed in parents, mostly mums, with hectic and demanding schedules. Because they have limited personal time during the day, they frequently stay up late at night, even if they are exhausted in order to recover uninterrupted moments for themselves.

The phrase “revenge” indicates seeking vengeance for the day’s activities, which took up the majority of their time and energy.

Being a mum can tax one’s time management skills and cause one to spiral out of routine, which is why a mum may prefer to browse endlessly or binge-watch Netflix in the late hours.

Wondering if you have mumsomnia?

Well, your phone’s digital screen or app trackers may be a good indicator. I know that when I looked up mine, I was surprised to find I was spending at least 2 hours every night on my phone. I could swear it felt like 15 minutes!

Is vengeance bedtime procrastination a mental disorder?

So, the good news is that bedtime procrastination is not considered a disorder. If anything, it refers to a behavioural tendency rather than a diagnosable illness. (Instagram, Netflix, and endless TikToks may have made it easier for us to stay awake once the kids are in bed.)

Is it good? Nonetheless, this behaviour might have a negative impact on sleep quality and overall well-being. (Not just those dark circles!)

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Handling Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Well, now that you have acknowledged the problem, the next step is to deal with it.

Dealing with the wily temptress of the night and avenging bedtime procrastination necessitates a deliberate approach. If you find yourself caught in its sultry, swiping web ( ahem, never ending TikToks), don’t worry!

Here are some helpful hints to help you restore your sleep schedule:

Create a structured bedtime routine

It is critical to have an organised evening routine in order to combat bedtime procrastination. Setting a consistent sleep plan with a regular bedtime and wake-up times is part of this. You can regulate your body’s internal clock and create a more disciplined attitude towards sleep by following a consistent regimen.

Make a relaxing pre-sleep ritual

A relaxing pre-sleep practice can help your brain recognise that it’s time to unwind. Relaxing activities include having a warm bath, reading a book, and practising mindfulness techniques. These peaceful activities might help to relax your mind and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

Whatever you decide to go with, make sure it doesn’t involve your phone.

Prioritise personal time and self-care

Prioritise self-care and personal time throughout the day. By making time for yourself, you’ll be less likely to resort to bedtime procrastination as a strategy for reclaiming leisure time. Maintain a healthy balance between your commitments and things that offer you delight.

Consider starting technology curfews before bedtime; electronics’ blue light might disrupt your sleep cycle and make it difficult to fall asleep.

Set a timer for screen time to allow your mind to naturally unwind before going to bed. And no. Don’t add five more minutes because you know those will lead to just another hour of screen time.

Maintain self-control and concentrate on the long-term benefits

If resisting the attraction of vengeance bedtime delay becomes difficult, practise self-discipline and remind yourself of the long-term benefits of a regular sleep regimen.

Concentrate on the benefits of getting enough sleep on a consistent basis, such as increased energy, improved mood, and increased productivity during the day.

Get help if necessary

Remember that it takes time and effort to stop the pattern of bedtime procrastination. Be patient with yourself as you transition to a healthier sleeping regimen, and don’t be afraid to seek help from loved ones or specialists if you’re having difficulty breaking the habit. If you have a partner, why not ask them to confiscate your device before bed?


Is vengeance bedtime procrastination a symptom of ADHD?

The link between bedtime procrastination and ADHD is not exclusive, although studies suggest that people with ADHD may be more prone to it.

The difficulties that people with ADHD often have with time management and self-regulation can contribute to a higher risk of participating in revenge bedtime procrastination. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by difficulties with concentration, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, and people with ADHD may struggle with time management, task prioritisation, and adherence to schedules.

The temptation of vengeance bedtime procrastination, with its promise of uninterrupted personal time, can be especially appealing to people with ADHD.

It allows them to engage in activities they enjoy without being bothered by outside distractions or expectations. This behaviour, however, can have a negative impact on sleep patterns and overall well-being.

And, if you happen to be reading this at 2 a.m., here’s your reminder that it’s time to turn off your device and catch up on your ZZzZzs.

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