Your Bed is for Sleep and Nothing But Sleep!
I used to live in a small downtown apartment that forced me to decide: Will I get a dining table or a sofa with a coffee table? I chose the latter, with some unintended consequences. I found myself eating my meals while sitting on the sofa and naturally, turned on the TV as well. Fast forward 6 months later, I had gained about 10 pounds. What happened?
Cognitive theory describes human minds as unstoppable association machines. In my case, every time I sat on the sofa or watched TV, my body would associate these as cues for eating: I would actually start to feel hungry watching the news! To put an end to this, I purchased a bar stool to force myself to eat at the kitchen counter instead.
Your bed is another piece of furniture that is very susceptible to associations, both positive and negative. If most of your experiences in bed involve pleasure, relaxation and rest, you will probably have lots of positive associations every time to lie down in bed. However, if you have a habit of doing any of the following in bed, the associations might be pretty unhelpful towards sleep:
Talk on the phone
Argue with your partner
Worry about what you have to do tomorrow
Some of the activities listed above are more obvious in how much negativity they can potentially generate. Truthfully, by the time a person has trouble sleeping, ANY association other than being asleep while in bed is likely unhelpful. While it may seem extreme, if you are someone who has trouble falling or staying asleep, I challenge you to spend one entire month doing NOTHING BUT SLEEPING in bed. At the same time, DO NOT SLEEP ANYWHERE OTHER THAN IN YOUR BED. Sleep specialists call this reset of associations “stimulus control therapy.” It fits into the larger rule that helps most people: Keep it simple! The results may surprise you.