Many fathers are going to be able to relate to what I say next. Some might not have been able to put their finger on it before but they knew there was a name for it. From nearly the day my son was born, I slept like shit. Yes, I know what you're thinking, we have kids, we're never going to sleep like we used to. Sure. But this has mostly been self-inflicted and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Like many others, I've unwittingly subjected myself to something known as Revenge Bedtime Procrastination.
"A good husband is never the first to go to sleep at night or the last to awake in the morning" - Honore de Balzac
What The Hell Is "Revenge Bedtime Procrastination"?
“Revenge bedtime procrastination” is essentially deciding to sacrifice sleep for leisure time because you lack free time during the day.
This blew my god damn mind when I stumbled across it. I didn't pay much attention to my sleep pattern when my son was born, I just kind of went with the flow. Son goes to bed, mom and dad chill for a bit, mom goes to bed, dad does whatever he feels like, finally. Peace, quite, sweet sweet alone time. Before you know it, it's 2 in the morning and you're kicking yourself because you know how quickly 7am (if you're lucky) creeps up on you. But fuck it, "I haven't been able to watch much of Breaking Bad for the 4th time like I've been meaning to. I had a long day, I deserve it.". At least that's what we convince ourselves in the moment. Then when morning hits, we have that all too familiar feeling like the first time you got drunk in college, "why the fuck did I put myself through that?"
The average adult needs 7 or more hours of sleep per night. I was lucky to get maybe 5, 5 and a half, according to my FitBit. I would slog through the day just praying to whatever God would listen to just get me through the day and swear I'll go to bed early that night. Then after a long day, night comes, baby goes down and the cycle repeats.
How Lack Of Sleep Really Fucks With You
First of all, it's important to understand why this is only in our best interest to get a good night sleep. Logically, yes, we all know a good night sleep is beneficial, no shit. But just how beneficial is it for us and how do we do something about it to change?
Getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, on a regular basis, increases your risk of obesity. A
lack of sleep can cause a disruption of your appetite hormones that regulate your feelings of hunger vs satisfaction (ghrelin & leptin). Not only that, a chronic lack of sleep has been shown to be linked to diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease.
Fellow Fathers, do not fret, for This Too Shall Pass
Any one of those facts above scared the piss out of me enough to know I need to start managing my sleep better. I recently listened to an episode of Armchair Expert hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman who interviewed Andrew Huberman, link in sources. Andrew Huberman is a renowned American Neuroscientist and professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He has made many contributions to the brain development, brain plasticity, and neural regeneration and repair fields.
Throughout this podcast Andrew discusses many of the factors that inhibit peoples ability to get good sleep and provides some insight on how to get better rest. I highly encourage you to listen to the episode, I have provided a link in the sources and will have a Podcast link page as well with links to all Podcast episodes I find helpful, insightful or just interesting.
For me personally, I've begun a routine that allows me to get longer sleep and more importantly, better sleep. It took some time and baby steps but I'm slowly getting to a place I want to be with my rest. I do not drink caffeine after 3pm, I stopped eating 2 hours prior to when I wish to go to sleep, I wake up when my alarm clock goes off and never hit snooze and I begin to wind down around 10-10:30pm while trying to avoid my phone if possible. It sounds simple but simple can still be effective.
Key Take Away
I encourage anyone reading this to truly and honestly evaluate your sleep patterns. Can you honestly say you're getting enough sleep? What steps can you take to improve your quality of sleep? Try developing a wind down routine and see if it works for you like it has me. You owe it to yourself and more importantly the people that depend on you to take your sleep health seriously so you can be the best dad possible.
Suni E. What is “revenge bedtime procrastination?” Sleep Foundation. Updated February 23, 2021.
Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: a joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Sleep. 2015;38(6):843–844.
Patel SR, Malhotra A, White DP, Gottlieb DJ, Hu FB. Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. American journal of epidemiology. 2006 Nov 15;164(10):947-54.
Cooper CB, Neufeld EV, Dolezal BA, Martin JL. Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: a brief narrative review. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine. 2018 Oct 1;4(1).
Harvard | School of Public Health | https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sleep/
Shepard D, Padman M. Armchair Expert - Andrew Huberman. September 23, 2021. https://armchairexpertpod.com/pods/andrew-huberman.