Instant gratification refers to the tendency of choosing less rewarding behaviors for immediate satisfaction over behaviors that produce a better future benefit (Ackerman, 2011). Instant gratification delays or prevents an individual from meeting their long term goals even when they are aware the future benefits outweigh the short-term benefits. The inability to resist instant gratification temptations derives from personal problems with self-control. For example, impulsiveness makes delaying gratification when tempted difficult. Another self-control issue that can make instant gratification harder to resist is anticipation. Humans prefer to anticipate positive things but not negative things; this makes choosing discomfort over instant satisfaction difficult (Ackerman, 2011). A consequence of engaging in instant gratification is procrastination.
With the rise of social media and cell phones, a phenomenon called "revenge sleep procrastination" is occurring due to the instant gratification of screen time. In 2014, the behavioral scientist Dr. Floor Kroese described bedtime procrastination as choosing to go to bed later than intended without a valid reason (Cohut, 2021). A study done in 2020 found that adults were choosing to watch videos, text, or scroll on social media instead of sleeping. One of the driving forces behind revenge sleep procrastination is having to resist one's desires to do enjoyable things during the day due to work or school and, as a result, engaging in those activities at night. Choosing the instant gratification of screen time over sleep prevents an individual from obtaining quality sleep which can negatively impact mood regulation, cardiovascular health, inflammation, productivity, and mental health (Cohut, 2021).