Does this sound familiar?
You’re exhausted all day long. There’s isn’t enough coffee in the world to prop your eyelids up during your commute, at your desk, your kid’s soccer game, but suddenly, when you’re in your pajamas, teeth brushed, and between your nice, clean sheets, you can’t sleep.
According to TIME, you’re not alone – many people have trouble falling asleep in their own beds, thanks to a phenomenon called conditional arousal.
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Basically, it happens because you’ve inadvertently trained your body to associate your bed with being awake, as opposed to being used for sleep. We don’t get in bed when we’re tired, we get in bed an hour before we want to be asleep and then binge a couple of Netflix episodes, scroll through our social media, read a few chapters, have a snack, etc – and that tells our brain that the next time we get into bed, we won’t be going to sleep right away.
So, it holds off on the good chemicals.
Conditional arousal is a cycle, something you’ve made a habit, which means you can’t really break it in one night. To fix it, you basically have to stop doing anything that isn’t sleeping in your bed, and you’ll need to give it time.
This is also the reason that sleep experts advise you get up and go into another room if you’re struggling with a bout of anxiety and/or insomnia that keeps you tossing and turning. If you stay in bed, your brain will begin to associate your mattress and pillows with flopping and frustration as opposed to a peaceful night’s sleep.
Like any habit, you’ll need to establish a new routine, and then stick to it for as long as it takes to erase the previous one from your brain.
If it doesn’t work, or you suffer from clinical insomnia or anxiety or other conditions that can make falling asleep difficult, you might want to consult a medical professional in order to get the sleep you need.
But if you’re just guilty of climbing into bed to wind down, try doing that part of your routine in another room and saving your mattress for when you’re actually ready to catch some zzz’s.