Why do I fall asleep on the couch but can’t in bed?

Some people have no problem falling fast asleep on the couch, in a motel room, in a car, in class, at a movie … but when they lie down in their own bed in their own bedroom … wham! Eyes wide open.

This happens to insomniacs surprisingly often. It can result when one’s bed and bedroom become associated, subconsciously, with the stress of insomnia.

For those who battle sleeping problems, it’s understandable.

If you spend hour after hour tossing and turning in frustration and anger at your inability to sleep, you may actually spend more time lying in bed stressed out and awake than asleep.  In that case, sure your bed and bedroom environment can inadvertently become a subconscious cue for a state of worried wakefulness rather than the kind of restful relaxation that leads to sound sleep.  Many insomniacs can probably relate – been there, done that.

There are effective ways to counter this negative association, and doing so is one important component to better sleeping.  It does involve some work, but it’s not complicated. Many sleep experts suggest starting with this: use your bedroom for only two things — sleep and sex.  Avoid anything stressful in the bedroom, including work, TV if its stimulating, phone calls if they’re stressful, and so forth.

The underlying concept is called stimulus control.  The idea is to deliberately make your bedroom a sanctuary from all the everyday worries and stresses of the world, and to consciously cultivate a positive mental association with your bed and bedroom.  Your bedroom then becomes your escape from stress rather than a source of stress, a place to let go and sleep.

Stimulus control is one component of a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral based solution for better sleep.  This is included in detail in the Sleep Training System, a downloadable CBT-based online training program.  For more details on using the STS for better sleep, please visit our website www.sleeptrainingsystem.com .

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia, sleep

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3 Comments on “Why do I fall asleep on the couch but can’t in bed?”


  1. Nope. . .no television, no work, no telephone calls, no stimulation of any kind in the bedroom. Can fall asleep in the living room with the television going. Can NOT fall asleep on the bed in the bed room.

  2. Alan brown Says:

    I have the same problem,can’t fall asleep in bed and have to go and sleep on the sofa, I have sleep anopia so guess that I subconsciously keep my wife awake with my snoring and worry about it, she used to nudge me when I snored and I would have trouble getting back to sleep again. Am going to try losing weight and going down the gym later in the evening to see if that cures it. And also get my sex life back on track.


  3. […] Conditioned insomnia typically results from tossing and turning in bed for hours at a time, which of course is very negative and frustrating.  So a negative association is inadvertently created with your bed, bedroom, and the idea of sleeping.  This is why many insomniacs can’t sleep in bed, but easily fall asleep on the couch, in a tent, in a motel room, sometimes anywhere besides their own bed. […]


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