By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Are we reverting back to our childhood when we resisted going to bed? Yes! So say the sleep experts who are handling a rising caseload of people experiencing sleep issues during the pandemic.

Dr. Daniel Shade is the Medical Director of AHN Sleep Medicine and says we are falling into a pattern of ‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination.’

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He says its a real thing, “What it describes is a mode of behavior where workers will get home, typically, working long hours, already especially more with a pandemic when it’s hard to turn off work versus home life, and they will stay up late, and they will try to get some self-care.”

That self-care can take a lot of forms like watching TV, playing video games, going online, reading a book, or doing something for themselves, says Dr. Shade.

“But they’ll do this perhaps late into the night time even knowing that it could cut into their sleep time which is vital. Especially now, sleep does help your immune system and memory function, but they’ll do that anyway almost as a revenge, towards the workplace.”

And there is a direct impact on your body’s systems, “Systems that affect our immune system very important now with COVID systems that affect our memory. Even our sex lives can be affected by lack of sleep. It touches almost every system in the body. Over the long term metabolically how your system works, things are going to start breaking.”

Dr. Shade says they are also seeing an increase in insomnia cases, “The most common thing we see is the difficulty falling asleep where you’re in bed and you’re ruminating and thinking about the day or things that might come up during the next week or just the overriding anxiety that a lot of people have.”

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But Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is something that is a conscious choice to stay awake.

With so many other things out of our control, “The one thing people can control is when they decide to go to bed. And even if they know that that’s not good for them, they’re going to go to bed at midnight or 1:00 a.m., they know that they’re going to be sleepy the next day, that’s something they can control.”

So how do you break the self-harming revenge? Dr. Shade says, “You have to set a standard sleep time. You have to get home from work and prioritize taking care of yourself for a couple of hours or your family, then you have to say okay, I’ve done that, I’ve decompressed a little bit now I need to prioritize sleep because it’s that important.”

Besides setting and keeping a bedtime, Dr. Shade says turn off the electronics that have a screen which give off a blue light.

“Avoid blue light at nighttime, whether you wear goggles or filters on your device. Whenever you can do try to wind down and avoid blue light. What that does is that inhibits melatonin which is your body’s natural, chemical, if you will, that helps induce sleep. So you’re tamping down your body’s normal response to darkness.”

Dr. Shade says the good news is if you change your habit and stick to it, within a week or so, you can change your body’s clock and get used to the new hours.

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And he adds, the impact he’s seen on his patients who finally get the seven to nine hours sleep they need, “The vast, the vast majority easily feel better, they say they function better, that their memory is better, that they think in a positive cycle where they feel more energetic and now they’re able to exercise, or they are able to be more productive at work because they’re just not in a fog all day long.”