Sleep Procrastination and Burnout Among Professionals

For many busy professionals, the day is almost fully occupied by work. Even when you’re not in the office, you’re probably thinking about looming deadlines, pending sales, and important meetings. Unfortunately, these thought patterns can contribute to chronic stress, which leads to its own host of consequences. Learn the facts about sleep procrastination and burnout among professionals.

Sleep Procrastination: A Growing Health Concern

When you finally finish your work, you feel like there aren’t enough hours left in the day. As a result, you make the decision to stay up later at night. Putting off your bedtime in favor of leisure time is a phenomenon that psychologists call “revenge bedtime procrastination” or “sleep procrastination.” It’s especially common among professionals in high-stress jobs. The symptoms of this condition are:

  • Delaying bedtime (and reducing your total time spent asleep),
  • Putting off sleep for no real reason (no external factors like illness), and
  • Doing all of this even though you know it will have a negative impact on your health.

Some people procrastinate by putting off getting in bed (“bedtime procrastination”), while others make it under the covers but spend their time scrolling or watching TV (“while-in-bed procrastination”).

No matter which form of sleep procrastination a person practices, serious consequences are just around the corner. Sleep deprivation impacts the brain’s executive functioning, so processes like memory, thinking, and decision-making are negatively affected. Those who are tired are more likely to get into car accidents, make mistakes at work, and develop certain cardiac and metabolic disorders.

Why Do People Stay Up?

While these individuals understand what they’re doing and want to get adequate sleep, they continue this maladaptive behavior. Their actions don’t reflect their intentions. There are a few different theories behind revenge bedtime procrastination.

The first explanation is one of self-control. Some researchers assert that those who are exhausted at the end of a long day – especially overstressed professionals – have reached the limits of their self-control. If these people are naturally inclined to procrastinate, they may decide to put off bedtime for a few more hours.

Other psychologists think that the choice of sacrificing sleep for relaxation may be a must for those who are overwhelmed at work. Recovery time is incredibly important for those with stressful careers, and for some, the late-night hours may be the only time available to recuperate from the day.

According to the Sleep Foundation, “Revenge sleep procrastination appears to be tied to significant daytime stress. For many people, sleep procrastination may be a response to extended work hours that, if combined with a full night’s sleep, leave virtually no time for entertainment or relaxation.”

Exhaustion and Burnout

Intentional sleep deprivation also contributes to another growing problem in the U.S.: burnout. This phenomenon develops when professionals are subjected to chronic stress in the workplace. Those at high risk of burnout are individuals who:

  • Feel they lack control of their work,
  • Work in helping professions (health care or law enforcement, for example),
  • Have a heavy workload,
  • Work long hours, or
  • Struggle to maintain work-life balance.

As a result of the above, burned-out men are likely to experience irritability, depression, and substance misuse. They are also predisposed to insomnia, fatigue, and sleep procrastination.

Psychologists recommend that those impacted by burnout begin to find healthy outlets for their stress, like exercise or mindfulness meditation. More importantly, they should begin to change things at their workplaces. Speaking to one’s supervisor and seeking support is a crucial first step. If a compromise cannot be reached, it is probably time to begin hunting for a new job. While changing careers or companies can be stressful, reducing your stress levels is worth it.

Help for Burnout in Austin, Texas

Are you dealing with burnout-induced sleep procrastination? Are you concerned about your substance use? Help is available. The Last Resort helps men to overcome chronic stress, mental illness, and addiction. Contact our admissions team to learn about our men’s-only treatment programming.


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, June 5). Know the signs of job burnout. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from

Suni, E. (2021, February 23). Revenge bedtime procrastination: Definition & psychology. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from