Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: How it is Different for People With DID?

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Question:   Why would anyone take revenge on themselves as trauma survivors?
 
Answer:     They (incorrectly) think they are getting a reward.

Revenge Bedtime procrastination is something that people without trauma histories do all the time.  Adults with DID aren’t alone with this one.

It is when you have had a full day, with lots of “to-do” items, most of them boring, stressful, or downright miserable.  You come home, and the theme continues even though the location changed.  Life in the 21st century can be like that. 

Bedtime arrives.  It just so happens that that is when your fave show is on, or when you can sit down and play a video game on your phone, or read your novel.  It is when you can go online and look at social media for a while.  “I deserve a bit of fun” you think, and 10 minutes turns into 60.  You toss the phone and put your head down on the pillow.  

You are still awake 30 minutes later.

You blame your job, your partner, your dog, or the tight back muscles you can feel cramping up.

You have just engaged in revenge bedtime procrastination.

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Why is this such a risk to your health?

We don’t know everything about how sleep affects physical and mental health.  But we know enough.  We know that short sleep (sleeping less that 6 hours/night consistently) is really bad for your body and mind.  Name a body part or a mental skill.  Short sleep makes it worse.  It is the all-purpose hammer to everything good about life and living.  Revenge bedtime procrastination makes it harder for you to fall asleep and then get a good night’s sleep, because you did not wind down the brain and body to prepare it to sleep.  You are cutting into the preparation time and  stealing quality sleep opportunity time, all in one step.

But I crash in less than 5 minutes!  I am good.  Honestly.  You don’t know me.

Sorry.

Normal brains don’t crash.  They glide into sleep.  

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People who crash are almost certainly sleep-deprived.  Or brain-damaged, or have a brain-based sleep dysfunction.  And you are probably not the latter; you are more likely the former: sleep-deprived.

What can I do?  I deserve, actually, I need a break.  I gave everything I had to everyone else, all day long.  What about “me” time?  I am starting to be thinking that revenge was a good word.  I am getting more resentful by the moment.

Yes, you definitely deserve “me” time.  You deserve fun.  You deserve it all.

You are taking it at the wrong time of day.  You may need to take another look at your schedule and your priorities.  And the other people in your life may have to share more of your burden or do their share of their own jobs.  The best way to deal with revenge bedtime procrastination is to front-load your “me” time.  Delegate or simplify, but think carefully about what you are sacrificing.  You are sacrificing ….you.

Get your “me” time in early.  Get it, and remember that you made yourself a priority.  You have DID, so you must think about your system too.  Let all of your parts have something that is their “me” time as well.  They can take it in groups rather than individual time.  Groups work great.  You have probably been in some and learned a lot!

You won’t need to devote a lot of time to this, particularly if it is done early in the day and what you do has meaning to you and them.  They can be taught to savor it and to accept that there is a limit.  As long as they know they will get time, and it won’t be grabbed away or discounted.  That feels as bad to them as it sounds.

This could mean planning for it.  You can do it, because the reward is sweeter.  You might be looking forward to sleeping, because the sooner you sleep, the sooner it will be tomorrow and your “me” time is early, not late.

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Published by Cathy Collyer

I am a licensed occupational therapist and a licensed massage therapist, in private practice in the NYC area. I have over 25 years of professional experience in adult and pediatric treatment, with a focus on sensory processing issues and treating the consequences of complex trauma. I am the author of four books, including "Staying In The Room: Managing Medical And Dental Care When You Have DID" and "The Practical Guide To Toilet Training Your Child With Low Muscle Tone". Over the years I have lectured about trauma treatment and pediatric development.

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