What’s your relationship with your bed?

Our brains are wired to make associations between certain objects and our thoughts, emotions and behaviours learned over time based on our experiences with them.

For good sleepers, getting into bed is generally associated with feeling relaxed and sleepy.  They go to bed and within 10-20 minutes are drifting off into sweet slumber without much effort or conscious thought. 

For those of you who have struggled with sleep for a while, it’s likely you’ve developed some negative associations with your bed.  You may find that you can’t keep your eyes open whilst sat on the sofa trying to watch TV or chat with your family, however as soon as you get into bed you’re wide awake and sleep feels lightyears away.  

You may feel restless, frustrated, hopeless and anxious about sleep and the night ahead.  It’s all about the cognitive associations we make over time.  You may have associated the sofa with sleepiness but the bed with being awake which then evokes anxieties and fears of not sleeping.This can be really tough and you may feel that you’ve completely lost the ability to or control over your own sleep

If this is ringing bells for you, I’m here to reassure you this doesn’t have to continue.  There are some simple strategies from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi) that you can implement to regain positive associations with your bed:

  • Try to only use for bed for sleep and sex. No other activities.
  • Only go to bed when you feel sleepy (take yawning and droopy eyes as a clue).  This may mean going to bed slightly later than normal.
  • Implement a pre-sleep routine over around 90 mins to 2 hours where you prefer for bed time.  This may include having a shower or bath, gentle stretching and breathing exercises (simple Yoga is fantastic for this), reading or watching nothing too exciting or stimulating, putting on your PJs and doing your teeth.  This means you’ll be ready to hit the sack pretty sharpish once you’re feeling sleepy.
  • If you’re unable to sleep after 15-20 minutes trying (i.e. after you’d set the intention to go to sleep), get up, go into another room where there’s a comfy spot (not another bed though!) and engage in a preferably sedentary activity that you enjoy but don’t find too stimulating.  Then only return to bed to sleep when you feel tired.  Repeat this as many times until you sleep.

This process may sound scary, but if you keep doing it, you can rebuild those positive associations with your bed, and improve your sleep.

Give it a try and I’d love to know how you get on!

If you’re interested in learning more about CBTi, or simply how you can improve your sleep (even if you don’t have insomnia), you can get in touch with me through my One Stop Wellbeing page!

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