“Nothing good happens to any part of your body or brain when you’re sleep-deprived, both acutely and chronically,” Dr. Dasgupta explains. “So that’s what we worry about when people are doing this revenge bedtime procrastination.”What can you do about bedtime procrastination and revenge bedtime procrastination?If reading this makes you roll your eyes and you’re already planning your 3 a.m. snack, we get it. Finding time to yourself is difficult, and the last year has broken a lot of our boundaries. Sometimes you have to seek vengeance through your bedtime until you can figure out something more sustainable—no judgment. But if you want to change your revenge habits or bedtime procrastination in general, there are a few things you can do:1. If you’re still working from home, create a commute.The name of the game is to establish boundaries so that you won’t need to reclaim your time after midnight. Dr. Romanoff suggests you start your day with a commute activity—even if it’s just a walk around the block. “It will recalibrate your mind and prepare you for the workday,” she explains. Do this at the end of the day too: “Shut down your computer and head out the door for a walk. Don’t turn on the TV,” she says. “This will help you unwind from the day and assist with the transition from work to living space.”2. Recognize that you can’t accomplish everything in a day.Your procrastination habits likely stem from trying to cram all of your responsibilities into 24 hours. By the time you’ve done everything you possibly can, it’s often late in the evening and you’re wired. Editing your to-do list as much as possible can increase the chances of not needing to unwind for hours at 11 p.m. When in doubt, try to remember that you can’t do it all in one day.3. Find nourishing nighttime activities.If you absolutely must keep your procrastination hours, then consider making them as restful as possible. Try swapping Netflix for a book or subbing a glass of wine for something that doesn’t impact your sleep (alcohol might help you doze off, but it can disrupt your REM sleep and leave you tired in the morning, SELF has previously reported). If the goal is to use this time to relax and unwind, Dr. Dasgupta says, make sure it’s an activity that healthily and constructively checks those boxes.4. Set a bedtime alarm.If time gets away from you each night before you notice it’s 2 in the morning, try setting an alarm clock. Just as your alarm clock tells you when it’s time to wake up, a gentle chime (or obnoxious siren) can tell you it’s time to get ready for bed. Yes, bedtime procrastination (and its cousin revenge bedtime procrastination) implies that you know you’re up too late, but a reminder might help encourage you a little.5. Give yourself a chance to fall asleep before you reach for your phone.While Dr. Dasgupta doesn’t want you staring at the clock waiting for sleep, he does recommend giving yourself some time to drift off. But here’s the kicker: If, after 15 to 20 minutes, you don’t find yourself getting sleepier, don’t reach for your phone or turn on the TV in bed. Instead, Dr. Dasgupta suggests getting up and moving into a different room until you feel more tired. “Just staying in bed awake is not the way to go,” he explains. “Leave the bed and do things that are non-stimulating in dim light.” Then (after an activity like reading, some gentle stretches, or your favorite meditation app), head back to bed and try again.6. Consider talking to a therapist.Even though bedtime procrastination and revenge bedtime procrastination aren’t forms of insomnia, sleep deprivation can have some pretty harmful effects. So Dr. Romanoff suggests exploring cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. “The goal of CBT for insomnia is to identify and alter beliefs that affect your ability to sleep,” she explains. “You will work to manage or explore alternatives to the negative thinking and anxiety relevant to revenge bedtime procrastination.” A therapist might help you understand why you’re procrastinating, and they can suggest habits that can encourage sleep.Ultimately, revenge bedtime procrastination (or bedtime procrastination in general) isn’t the best for your overall well-being, but the last year hasn’t been great for well-being either. As you try to figure out what works best for you, don’t shame yourself for seeking revenge. Even though the downsides might outweigh the reward, “the autonomy to spend time in a way that folks know is ‘not good for them’ has a rebellious component,” Dr. Romanoff says. Often, staying up a little later to hang out and do nothing can feel as though you’re exerting a little control over your life, which is helpful when you’re anxious or feeling uncertain. Just try to remember, as you rage against responsibility, sleep is actually your friend.Related:
For many people, a silver lining of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been money saved from not traveling, commuting, or eating/ordering out with the same frequency as in the Before Time. Many people put more energy and money into outfitting their new home office setting, but I’d already been working from home as a freelance writer for three years at that point and had a quality desk and comfortable chair setup. With the uncertainty and anxiety that the pandemic has brought, what I did end up splurging on was a weighted Gravity Blanket, which I firmly believe has been worth every penny.I often struggle with not getting enough sleep or not getting quality sleep—a problem that’s only been compounded by an ongoing global health crisis. I looked to weighted blankets a couple years ago as a remedy because they’ve been touted as one way to improve sleep quality, enhance relaxation, and even help alleviate anxiety, like a thunder jacket for dogs. The actual evidence for this is mostly anecdotal, and not supported by a ton of scientific evidence, but the way this might work is through a mechanism called deep pressure touch stimulation, also called DPTS or deep pressure, as Justin Scanlan, Ph.D., professor of occupational therapy and mental health clinician-researcher at the University of Sydney, previously told SELF. Deep pressure describes the pleasant, warm, and fuzzy sensation that you feel when experiencing various forms of tactile compression—like swaddling, massaging, and hugging.Weighted blankets are typically filled with poly pellets or glass, plastic or steel beads, and usually weigh anywhere from 5 to 30 pounds. How much weight people prefer in a blanket is a personal choice, although many experts advise using one that is about 10% of your body weight.And though I already owned a weighted blanket from a couple years back, I found that it was too short for my body, more stiff than soft, and didn’t come with a cover (which made it hard to wash and keep clean). Once the pandemic stress hit, I decided it was worth researching and potentially splurging on something on something of better quality. After reading other testimonials and reviews, I settled on a 15-pounder from Gravity Blanket, the company behind the first mass-market weighted blanket to take off, sparking a craze for weighted blankets from then on. A 2017 crowdfunding campaign for the Gravity Blanket raised $4.7 million in pledge money, and lots of other models have followed suit from brands like Casper and this SELF-approved Layla one—versions filled with glass beads, some that are reversible, and others that come in aesthetically pleasing woven styles.But while the Gravity Blanket may be the first, I’m still convinced that it’s one of the best. It comes in a single size (72″ by 48″, ranging between 15 and 25 pounds) and one for queen/king beds (90″ x 90″, 35 pounds), each with gridded stitching that keeps the glass beads within from shifting around, anchoring you in place.The smaller size I settled on was long and wide enough to comfortably cover my body, but not large enough to take up my whole bed. This was good news for my husband, who hasn’t jumped on the weighted blanket train quite yet. And for more even weight distribution, Gravity Blanket doesn’t suggest sharing a blanket with a partner, anyways. The heaviness of it doesn’t feel like a crushing load, but rather like a soothing and relaxing embrace.Another plus of the Gravity Blanket is that it comes with an easy-to-remove, velvety soft washable cover. Not only has my Gravity Blanket helped me usually fall asleep fast and stay asleep through the night, but it’s also helpful for afternoon naps after the occasional not-so-great night of rest. If I just need a short break to feel refreshed and recharged, I can lie down on the couch, swaddled underneath my Gravity Blanket, and sink into a solid 30-minute power nap. There’s a cooling option for warmer months that can help reduce any unpleasant sweatiness (these blankets can run hot), and you can even bundle a Gravity Blanket with a year-long subscription to the Calm meditation app. One small caveat I’ve found is that after removing the duvet cover to throw in the wash, it can be a bit tedious to spend time fitting the blanket back inside the cover and buttoning and tying it back in place (the blanket also comes in a zippable cover, if that helps). But the 10 to 15 minutes it takes to do so is really worth it in exchange for the blissful hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep.Gravity Blanket Original Weighted BlanketRelated:
It doesn’t feel like an overstatement to say that news coverage about Black pregnancy emphasizes poor outcomes. This isn’t inherently bad. Black maternal mortality awareness helps inspire policy changes, targeted funding, additional training for providers, and other solutions. And this knowledge can empower individuals, too. It can help pregnant people figure out how they might advocate for themselves against a racist system even though it can be exhausting for Black pregnant people to think about the barriers and challenges they might face when endeavoring to give birth and survive to raise their children.Yes, Black women are three to four times more likely to die for a pregnancy-related reason than white women, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But how do we resist the temptation to let fear dominate our thoughts in the face of increasingly disturbing facts? Kimberly Seals Allers has launched a new podcast to help us all answer that question. Seals Allers is a health journalist and founder of IRTH, a Yelp-like app that allows Black pregnant people and their partners to review birthing centers, hospitals, and doctors. Her new podcast Birthright is based on the notion that we can learn as much from Black triumph as we can from Black pain.For the uninitiated, the reasons why Black people die from pregnancy-related causes at higher rates are multifaceted. As SELF previously reported, Black pregnant people are at higher risk for cardiovascular conditions like preeclampsia and eclampsia, which are blood pressure conditions that can negatively impact pregnancy and labor outcomes. Then there’s the relentless biological stress that comes from existing as a Black person in a racist society. These factors, of course, all existed before COVID-19 came into our lives. “The pandemic only exacerbated the weaknesses in our system, and the system was already failing, particularly Black and brown women and birthing people,” Seals Allers tells SELF. “So what we’ve seen is that it’s just getting worse.”The ways that death and despair dominate Black birth narratives help raise awareness, but it can also trigger anxieties in people who are or wish to become pregnant. “In my experience, working on the ground in the community, talking to Black and brown working people all the time, people were becoming afraid,” Seals Allers tells SELF. “People are preparing death documents to give birth. This cannot continue. We have to show that there is hope and possibility.”So Seals Allers set out to discover the treasures tucked inside of positive birth stories. “I see the work as twofold. [It’s] not just adding this idea of possibility and hope … it’s about learning lessons from our joy and not just pain,” she says.Each Birthright episode features a Black birth story told from multiple perspectives: the pregnant person recounts their experience, but listeners also hear from the doctors, midwives, doulas, and partners who participated as well. It’s a treat to hear from the dads and partners who supported and witnessed their children being born. Throughout each episode, Seals Allers acts as both interviewer and narrator helping us contextualize each birth story so that we come away with a sense that good birth stories do happen and that certain conditions can make them more likely.For instance, in episode two, Shenika Welch-Charles, M.D., an assistant clinical professor at the University of Texas, shares that research suggests having a Black doctor can increase positive outcomes for Black patients, but what matters most is that care teams provide a consistently high standard of care no matter what their patients look like. This call for a clear standard of care aligns with the sad fact that over 60% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, according to the CDC. The onus is on the health care system to provide adequate care for Black patients and other patients of color.Ultimately, Birthright is a candid and unapologetic celebration of Black-birthing joy, but Seals Allers says that upcoming episodes will expand to examine the healing journeys of people who’ve had less than positive birth experiences. “There are positive stories we can learn from, but we also need to learn how to heal because many of us, including myself, may not have a positive experience because of the nature of the system that we’re in.”So if you’re well-versed in dire birth outcomes for Black pregnant people and need to remember that joy and healing are part of your birthright, spend some time with generous folks who’ve shared their stories on the podcast. Birthright (available every other Wednesday on most podcast platforms) is a stunning and heartfelt reminder that, despite the disturbing statistics, many Black people are having the safe, supportive, and joyful birth experiences we deserve.Related:
SELF: Do you have any advice for how we can discern between being in danger and feeling uncomfortable?
In those moments when you are afraid, put it on paper. What is the thing that you’re afraid of? What is the worst thing that can happen? Write that down to see—if that thing happens—is your life destroyed? How catastrophic is it going to be for you?
SELF: So often, at the core of fear, is the notion that you won’t survive.
Ajayi Jones: Exactly. We usually think about everything in extreme ways. This thing will happen, and I’m not going to be the same. But most of the time, it’s not going to be catastrophic. If it is going to be catastrophic, sure—be quiet. Don’t do it.
The people I am encouraging to be “professional troublemakers” aren’t just on the margins. I’m hoping somebody with power reads this book and says, “I silence professional troublemakers around me.” I’m hoping that person sees this book and says, “I should be celebrating the people who challenge, the people who dissent, and those people who are typically the troublemakers.”
SELF: Yeah, often marginalized people are the ones who have to speak truth to power. As someone that is always speaking up, how do you care for yourself?
Ajayi Jones: Sometimes I just crash. I will just, like, run, run, run and then disappear to go recharge because I am an introvert. I’m a huge fan of candles. I always have a candle lit in my house because I want it to just smell good.
My self-care also looks like sometimes saying, “No.” Saying no is a big form of self-care for me because I can stretch myself quickly. So it is a constant struggle. I sometimes have to schedule self-care.
SELF: Has there ever been a time where you didn’t speak up, or you let fear win?
Ajayi Jones: You know, it’s less about me even speaking up, but about being honest with myself. I’ve been blogging for 18 years. I started in college, and when I graduated I deleted that blog. I started AwesomelyLuvvie.com to talk about the world as I see it now. I had a full-time job in marketing, and I really loved it. I kept writing, but I would just say, “Oh, I’m a blogger.” I was afraid to call myself a writer because it felt too big. So a lot of our fears don’t just show up in the moments when we need to say something. Sometimes they show up in the moments when we need to own who we are.
In 2012, I got credentialed to do press coverage at the Academy Awards. And here I am on the red carpet and backstage with journalists from CNN and NBC. And there’s me: Awesomely Luvvie. And my words got me in that room. I think that’s when I finally was like, Ma’am. You are out of excuses. You’re a writer.
SELF: That makes a lot of sense.
Ajayi Jones: Yeah, even though I was bold and speaking up in rooms when I needed to, I wasn’t speaking up to myself about my actual purpose, about my actual gift, and about what I was supposed to be focusing my attention on. I always think about that because you can spend a lot of time just doubting when you’re supposed to be standing strong.
Our fears look different. One person might be really bold as a speaker in rooms, but are they telling themselves the truth? They might be bold on social media, but are they talking to their friends and telling the truth at home? We have to ask ourselves: How is fear showing up in our lives, how do we use it, and how is it stopping us from being the person we’re supposed to be?
SELF: What is one thing that you think we, as a culture, don’t hear enough when it comes to fear and bravery?
Ajayi Jones: Let’s normalize fear without the guilt and the shame. Let’s normalize feeling afraid. That’s human. My real mission with this book is to empower a million people to fight their fear because I think the world will transform. What happens if a million people say something that feels hard but necessary, or if a million people ask for a promotion, or if a million women stop allowing imposter syndrome to make them think they’re not worth whatever opportunity they’ve been presented with? That will transform society.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.