When you fall asleep on your couch but not in your bed and you wonder why you’re in the right place. That’s something that’s happening to lots of people. And you might also wonder whether that’s bad for you and what you can do about it. Let’s find out! Today we are going to reveal the answer to why you fall asleep on the couch, but not in your bed
Quick answer: You fall asleep on your couch instead of your bed because of a mix of safety, comfort, and stress-relieve that you experience. Your couch provides excellent sleep conditions. Additionally, a habit has formed that reinforces this behavior. The more you fall asleep on your couch, the stronger the habit will become. In turn, you’ll fall asleep even faster the next time.
But there’s a lot more to it that you need to know. Your couch has some sleep-inducing characteristics that your bed doesn’t have. When you actually think about them, it seems obvious that you always fall asleep on your couch. Here’s why your couch is a sleep-machine.
10 Reasons why your couch makes you fall asleep better than your bed
Your couch is a stress-free zone: When you come home from work, you are often stressed out and tired. When you sit down on your couch and enjoy your well-earned evening, you can finally calm down. In the long run, your brain will automatically connect your couch to being relaxed, calm and sleepy.
If you spend your evening on the couch after work, after only 3-4 weeks, a habit will form. And because you are most likely doing this for years, and not only a few weeks, there’s a strong association between stress relieve and lying on your couch.
Your brain just assumes that whenever you sit or lie down, the majority of your day has finished and you can finally unwind.
Oftentimes you fall asleep on your couch as a sign of stress-relieve.
Your couch is in a better sleep environment than your bed: Most likely your couch is in your living room. Somewhere where you have a TV running, dim lights turned on and you have steady background noise. It’s warm, you have lots of pillows, and maybe even a comfy blanket.
You sleep better with noise than in silence: When you are watching the TV, you easily pass away and fall asleep. The calm background noise of your TV induces sleep. It overrides your thoughts.
It’s not the case for everyone but some people fall asleep better with noise than in complete silence. Maybe you are one of them. Some people even can only fall asleep when their TV is running. Here’s an article on how to stop it if you are one of them: How to fall asleep without the TV
You have some snacks around: When you eat fatty snacks while you are on your couch, you are likely to fall asleep faster. The fat contained in them slows down your body and makes you tired. You most likely know the feeling of tiredness after eating a big meal. It’s similar to that.
Dim light: When you spend your evening on your couch, you dim your lights to have a cozy atmosphere. The dim light will signal to your brain that it’s becoming night. Your brain will then start producing melatonin, the hormone that prepares your body to fall asleep and you’ll slowly get more tired.
Comfort: It’s just comfortable to sleep on your couch compared to your bed. You already wear your home-outfit, you have some pillows (and maybe a blanket) prepared on your couch and compared to your bed, your couch has a back, which provides additional comfort and feeling of security.
You have your own spot on your couch: Do you get this weird feeling when somebody occupies your spot on your couch? I think everyone can relate to this. You don’t only have these personal spots where just you can sit on your couch, but also at the dinner table, in the car, in bed, etc.
When you have your own spot, you subconsciously believe that no one will take in that place. You feel safe and you are likely to fall asleep.
Eating 1-2 hours before: Oftentimes you fall asleep on the couch after dinner. You come home from work, school or university, have dinner and then go and sit down on your couch.
Eating a big dinner will make you feel really tired. Especially if you didn’t get to eat much at lunch and breakfast. After digestion (which takes about 1-2 hours) you become more and more tired.
The reason is that after eating your brain releases serotonin. That’s the hormone responsible for regulating your mood and your melatonin levels, which will make you tired and drowsy.
You can, in fact, use this to fall asleep better. By eating the right stuff, so-called natural sleep remedies (sleep herbs, nuts, certain fruit), at the right time, you can basically decide when you are going to fall asleep.
Here’s a list what you can eat 1-2 hours before bed: 47 Natural Sleep Remedies you need to know
Spend time with your partner: When you have someone you love next to you, you are also more likely to fall asleep on the couch instead of your bed. Someone you love is, for most people, someone in whose presence you easily fall asleep.
However, that’s only true for 50% of the people. One partner is the one feeling safe and falling asleep, the other one then takes in the role of the protector and stays awake. I believe this is the way it works in most cases.
Sleep-inducing and harming effects of your TV
When you fall asleep on your couch but not in your bed, I believe a major reason for this is that you have a TV running. While watching TV is certainly entertaining, it can also lull you to sleep. However, there are some major downsides to falling asleep while your TV is running.
After you’ve read this section, I hope you know that you should, by all means, avoid falling asleep in front of your TV.
But first, let’s take a look at why you fall asleep on your couch when your TV is turned on.
How do TVs make you fall asleep
Certainly, one of the main reasons you fall asleep on your couch when your TV is running is that you spend your time in dim light. Without the TV, you would spend the time with a turned-on light. Your TV does not need external lighting, so most of us just turn down the lights for a better atmosphere.
Because of the dim light, you’ll fall asleep faster.
Also, the background noise of a TV covers up other noises in your environment and makes you fall asleep better.
Why you should go to bed instead
When you notice that you’re getting tired, go to bed. Falling asleep in front of the TV is certainly disturbing your sleep quality. Even though you are sleeping with dim lighting conditions, the light that your TV emits is blue light. Blue light is shown to inhibit melatonin production in your brain which hinders deep and restful sleep.
Also, you might fall asleep to a calm movie-scene on your TV. However, as soon as the advertisements start, your sleep quality is disrupted. Even if you don’t wake up fully, your sleep quality degrades.
After you’ve slept on the couch for about an hour, you will find it difficult to wake up and fall asleep on your bed again.
Is falling asleep on your couch dangerous?
You fall asleep on your couch, but not in your bed, because your couch is a good environment for falling asleep. Still, falling asleep on your couch can become a huge issue for your sleep quality and thus your health in the long term.
You fall asleep easily, but getting high-quality sleep becomes harder the longer you sleep on your couch. Break the habit of falling asleep on your couch instead of in your bed.
It’s like being addicted to smoking: It might be relieving the first time, but in the long run, the bad effects will take over.
Here’s why sleeping on your couch is dangerous:
Disturbed melatonin production: Melatonin, the hormone responsible for your sleep quality, is not present on healthy levels when you fall asleep on your couch. To have healthy and undisrupted sleep, you need to reach a certain level of melatonin. The exact level differs from person to person.
However, when you fall asleep on your couch, your brain can not produce melatonin properly. Either you have a lamp turned on or your TV is running. The light, especially the bright screen light from a TV, blocks the natural melatonin production and therefore prevents restful sleep.
Disturbed Sleep Rhythm: A study that investigated the effects of light on sleep found that sleep quality is linked to light exposure before falling asleep. However, it states, the light exposure does not impact your circadian rhythm, but only the so-called sleep pressure.
Sleep pressure is the urge to fall asleep that you experience every time you are really tired.
For example, let’s say you’ve been at a friend’s birthday party. Over the course of the whole night, sleep pressure will build up. When it reaches a certain level, it will kick in and make you feel tired. I always notice that on my way home from parties, when it’s 3 am.
The circadian rhythm, in contrast, is the natural sleep rhythm we are born with: Sleep at night, wake up in the morning. It’s synchronized with the sun. You can’t impact or modify this rhythm. It’s a constant.
The study says that light exposure (on your couch from TV or lamp) before falling asleep affects your sleep pressure. This means that your tiredness cannot build up to a level where you can easily fall asleep. You can fall asleep on your couch, because of all the reasons we already stated.
But when you go to bed, sleep pressure has not accumulated yet and you are not able to fall asleep there.
Bad Sleep Posture: When you sleep in your bed, you have lots of space. If you, however, fall asleep on your couch, you have only limited possibilities to move. The armrests of a couch and the length of the couch itself are not meant for sleeping. They force you to adopt a certain sleeping position.
Thus, when you fall asleep on your couch and not in your bed, you are more likely to wake up with a stiff neck, neck pain and maybe even a headache.
How to stop falling asleep on your couch and start falling asleep on your bed
How can you finally stop falling asleep on your couch and teach your body to fall asleep in bed instead?
You can tackle this issue effectively if we view it as a strong negative habit. To stop it, you have to employ habit-breaking rules.
These basic ideas come from a book I just read, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. It’s an awesome guide to build good habits and break bad ones. Just a personal recommendation if you look for something read-worthy.
Here’s the general idea: Make the bad behavior difficult and the wanted behavior easy.
Make falling asleep on your couch difficult
To stop falling asleep on your couch, you should make falling asleep on your couch difficult.
- Remove your favorite blanket and pillow from the couch
- Don’t lie down and sit upward instead
- Don’t wear your favorite pajamas on your couch
These things will decrease the chance for you to fall asleep on your couch. But you also have to make sleeping on your bed more attractive.
Make sleeping on your bed more attractive
To convince yourself to go to bed every time you get tired, you have to do the exact opposite of what you did on your couch.
- Put your favorite blanket and pillow on your bed
- Lie down comfortably
- Prepare your favorite pajama on your bed (only allow yourself to wear it in bed!)
You can see that by making one behavior unattractive and the other attractive, you greatly improve your chance to stop falling asleep on your couch.
Just by doing these few little changes, you can make a big impact on how you fall asleep on your couch compared to your bed. You only have to switch all the comfortable features of your couch over to your bed.
Change your mindset
Another idea on how to stop falling asleep on your couch is to change your mindset. Currently, you see yourself as someone who falls asleep on the couch. After so many years, it became your identity. If you want to change this behavior, it’s going to be very hard because your identity is in your way.
You can only start falling asleep in your bed instead of your couch if you stop identifying yourself as a couch-sleeper.
From now on, you are a bed-sleeper.
How can you establish this mindset?
You can become a bed-sleeper if you reinforce the bed sleeping behavior over and over without interruption.
Here’s what you can do to get rid of your couch-sleeping identity:
Make a couch-sleeping calendar: Don’t worry, it’s nothing complicated at all. All you are going to do is to draw a big, fat cross in your calendar every day you didn’t fall asleep on your couch. Over time, crosses will accumulate. The more often you go to bed before falling asleep, the longer your bed-sleep-streak is.
After some time, let’s say you have a streak of 7 days, you just don’t want to break the streak anymore. Your identity becomes a bed sleeper’s identity and you want to keep the streak gapless.
The longer your streak of crosses becomes, the more you will identify as a bed-sleeper: Someone who gets up from the couch every day he is tired and falls asleep in his bed.
If you employ the tactics: Make it uncomfortable to sleep on your couch, make it easy and comfortable to sleep on your bed and make a couch-sleeping calendar, you will be able to fall asleep in your bed.
Why do you fall asleep on your couch but not in bed? – The Outline
If you continuously fall asleep on your couch, but not in your bed, the whole problem gets really annoying. Why can’t you just sleep like everyone else?
In this guide, you’ve learned everything about this topic. First, you learned that you fall asleep on your couch, but not in your bed, because you create a perfect sleep environment on your couch.
You have your favorite pillows, comfortable clothes, a few snacks and maybe your partner. If you realize all of this you should ask yourself why your couch has all of these features while your bed doesn’t.
So, to fix it you’re going to redesign your environment. Just by taking all the comfortable, sleep-inducing stuff from your couch and moving it over to your bed, you can make a big difference. You make it less likely to fall asleep on your couch and increase the chance to fall asleep in your bed.
Go to your bed and stop falling asleep on your couch
Also, we’ve discussed, whether it’s dangerous to sleep on your couch instead of your bed. The result is YES. Sleeping on your couch always has downsides compared to sleeping in your bed. For example, you are exposed to more light, which prevents high-quality sleep. Also, your posture is very limited on your couch, which can cause neck pain the following day.
You can become a couch sleeper by creating a bed-sleeping calendar, where you draw a big cross on every day you’ve slept in your bed. This will enforce your new mindset.
You are not a couch-sleeper!