Why You Stop Feeling Tired When You Slip Into Bed

October 8, 2019

© Katarzyna Bialasiewicz | Dreamstime

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A typical day involves waking up sleepy, nodding off at your desk and using every bit of energy left just to make it through the day until bedtime only to find yourself wide awake and unable to sleep. It's not that you aren't tired or have insomnia, necessarily. Like a curse designed just to torture you, the sleeplessness only seems to occur when you're in your own bed at home. Many people have more trouble falling asleep in their own beds than they do elsewhere thanks to a phenomenon called learned or conditioned arousal. Conditioned arousal develops when you inadvertently train your body to associate your bed with being awake. In many cases, this results from doing stimulating activities in bed. For instance, you enjoy slipping into bed and catching up with your latest TV programs actually trains your brain that your bed isn't for sleeping, but for watching TV. The same goes for scrolling through apps, eating, and even reading in bed. Additionally, other factors such as your thoughts about your day, or that cup of coffee you had at 8 p.m.—they can lead to the same result. Your brain starts to associate being in bed with tossing and turning all night, so even if those mental and physical stimulants go away, the muscle memory of being awake in bed remains. The only way to manage it, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), is to minimize behaviors that contribute to poor sleep habits and to reserve your bed for sleeping. When you spend more than 20 minutes struggling to fall asleep in bed, get up and move to a different part of the house until you get sleepy again; this will stop your brain from strengthening the association between your bed and feeling restless. The results won't be instant, but by sticking to a new sleep routine, you should eventually train your body to follow healthier patterns.

SOURCE: Mental Floss

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