The couch is often the centre-point of our homes, the comfy corner where we go to relax and unwind. People often associate it with peace, calm, family time, and fun activities like watching your favorite show or playing games. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that you may begin to sleep better on the couch than in your own bed. But there can be other reasons to – perhaps you associate your bed or bedroom with stress, or suffer from insomnia. Sleeping on the couch can be a solution to these kinds of common problems.
Unfortunately, although sleeping on the couch can offer benefits, it comes with several disadvantages including back and neck pain, and mental conditioning. Today, we’ll uncover # common reasons why people sleep better on their couches than in their beds, take a closer look at the pros and cons of couch napping, and provide a guide to ways in which you can improve your sleep experience. Perhaps you’ll be able to transfer back to the bed and leave the couch as a daytime activity, improving your sleep quality and providing numerous physical and mental benefits.
6 Reasons Why You May Sleep Better On The Couch
1. It’s More Comfortable Than Your Bed
One of the primary reasons many people get a better night’s sleep on the couch without realizing why is because their beds are uncomfortable. This is usually due to an old or bad quality mattress which doesn’t offer the correct support. Most mattress manufacturers suggest a mattress can be used for 10 years and then it needs to be replaced.
It could be that your bed frame is the problem instead – does it creak? Or sag in the middle? Certain models of bed frame require appropriate bottom supports. Equally, some mattress types are only appropriate for certain styles of bed frame. For example, divans have a hard top designed to support heavy mattresses evenly.
It may be the material your bed is made from that is the problem – metal bed frames become looser with age and may start to squeak or move around as bolts become looser over time. Older wooden bedsteads are prone to creaking every time you turn over, so it could be a combination of discomfort and excessive noise that make your bed uncomfortable to sleep in.
If any of these issues affect you it might be time to update your bed set-up! See tips in our guide below.
2. Sleeping Environment
The environment you sleep in is as important as the quality of your bed. A common reason for sleeping better on the couch is the vibe of the living room compared to the bedroom. Usually living rooms have bigger open spaces and tend to be less cluttered than bedrooms. We also associate our living room with relaxation, switching off after a long day, spending time with your family or household, watching your favorite show or playing games. The relaxing associations we have with the living room can make it an attractive place to sleep.
A common mistake people make with their bedroom is to double them up as studies or work rooms. If your bedroom contains your desk and computer and is a work-from-home location it could be a source of stress when you try to settle down for sleep. Having negative associations with your bed and bedroom can be very destructive when it comes to good quality sleep.
Other factors can also play a part in making your bedroom a difficult place to sleep include:
- Poor lighting (or too much lighting streaming into the room)
- Excessive noise (from inside or outside the room)
- Inadequate temperature control (too hot or too cold)
- Lack of ventilation (making it stuffy or hard to breathe)
- Bright colors (clashing and vibrant colors can give a room a lively feeling – the opposite of what you need on the quest to become sleepy!)
- Strong or strange smells (these can be good or bad smells which stimulate your sensory system rather than calming you down in preparation for sleep)
We’ll cover some ways to make your bedroom a more peaceful place to be in the guide below.
Having difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep during the night, or insomnia, affects a great deal of people. It can be caused by:
- Going to bed out of habit rather than because you are sleepy
- Problems like asthma and allergies
- Depression and anxiety
- Lifestyle including habits and diet
- Sleeping next to someone
- Taking naps in the daytime
And many more reasons on top of those. If trying to fall asleep becomes a stressful activity, it is easy to begin associating bedtime with anxiety. As your bed and bedroom as a whole is your normal sleeping environment, this stress can become associated with your bed and/or bedroom as the sleeping environment and source of stress. Therefore, changing your sleeping environment and opting for the couch can be an effective solution for people. This is a common reason for getting better sleep on the couch and can be helpful in the short-term but may cause problems in the long-term.
Insomnia can be acute (lasting around a month and usually associated with a short-term problem like bouts of stress or an illness) or chronic (lasting for more than a month and associated with longer-term problems like pain and depression).
4. Sharing The Bed With Someone Else
Obvious disturbances associated with sharing the bed with someone else include snoring and cover-stealing! These factors can make you swap to the couch on a regular basis. But there are some factors which are easier to miss such as movement during the night and quieter noises like teeth-grinding and talking in your sleep.
Although you may not fully wake up and notice small disturbances like this, they can reduce the quality of your sleep and leave you feeling fatigued and irritable during the day, pushing you to sleep on the couch where you may get a more restful night.
Alternatively, if you are used to sharing the bed with someone else and there is a sudden change in your life such as a separation or the loss of a partner, the lack of company in bed may disturb your sleep and make you more inclined to sleep on the couch.
There are some easy tips and tricks you can try if your couch sleep is associated with the presence or absence of another person. Check out our guide below.
5. Elevation Of The Head And Chest
Sleeping with your chest elevated above your legs can help with congestion. You may sleep better on the couch because typically your head will be raised up higher than in bed. Sleeping with your head and shoulders propped up can be a great short-term fix and lead people to sleep on the couch for this reason. Clearer airways will help you to breathe during the night and contribute to your sleep quality.
But there can be long-term problems with propping yourself up during sleep including back and neck pain. Sofas typically lack the correct support we need during sleep, leading to pinched nerves and lumbar problems. Plus if the sofa is too short for us we may end up sleeping with our legs hanging over the edge of propped up on the sofa arm. This can cause leg pain, and/or numbness and tingling and should be avoided if sleeping on the couch on a regular basis.
6. Bedroom Full Of Devices
Nowadays we are often surrounded by electronic devices: phones, tablets, the router, TVs, gaming consoles, smart watches, alarm clocks, and smart home hubs. Often these devices involve blinking lights or emit blue light, which can be very detrimental to sleep.
Sometimes these devices make noises some of which are only just detectable by human hearing. Although you may be able to barely hear them, or they have become a normal part of the background noise you are used to, these sounds can really impact the time it takes for you to fall asleep and get back to sleep if you wake in the night.
If your sofa room contains less devices than your bedroom this could be a key reason you get a better night’s sleep on the sofa and avoid your bed.
Brief Guide To Improving Sleep Hygiene: Get Off The Couch And Back To Bed!
Couch sleeping may be beneficial in the short-term, but it will lead to problems if practiced in the long-term. You may even train your brain so you can only fall asleep on the couch and are totally unable to fall asleep in bed. But this can lead to serious back, neck and leg pain, and ultimately affect you mental and physical state negatively. Sofas are also not designed for sleeping on so will not wick away moisture and create a more hygienic sleep platform like mattresses are designed to do.
Sleep hygiene is a term which is used more and more frequently and incorporates behaviors and methods to help you obtain better quality sleep. So we’ve put together a few handy tips and tricks you can try in your effort to move back from the couch to bed.
1. Change Your Sleeping Environment
Consider moving the furniture around in your bedroom to give it a different feel. Ask yourself a few practical questions:
- Is my bed in the best position in terms of natural light?
- Is my bedroom too cluttered? Does it feel oppressive?
- How warm is it in here? Is there enough ventilation?
- Could I improve the lighting situation? Is there too much light coming in through the window?
- Are there any strong smells? Are these smells stimulating or relaxing?
You may need to de-clutter to help your bedroom feel more spacious, or consider opening the window just a crack to aid ventilation and prevent stuffiness. If you have curtains but a lot of light is still getting in and affecting your sleep, try installing a black-out blinds or curtains (like these!) or sleeping with an eye mask. You could consider repainting your room with calming colours like pale blue, pale purple, or cream.
Strong smells, even nice ones, may have a stimulating effect on the sensory system. Try removing air fresheners, old clothes and pet smells. Replace stimulating fragrances such as eucalyptus and mint with calming fragrances like lavender and chamomile (such as this pillow spray!).
2. Update Your Sleeping Gear
If your bedframe is old and squeaky or otherwise uncomfortable, consider updating it to avoid excessive noise and discomfort. Likewise, if you have an old mattress which is not giving you enough support it is essential to get yourself sorted with something more conducive for sleeping.
Sheets and duvets made from man-made materials like nylon and polyester are not as breathable as natural fibres like cotton and linen (or these bamboo sheets!). Try updating your sheets and covers to help with moisture wicking and to give you a more comfortable and hygienic night.
You might need to consider changing you pillow to get the raised support you seek by sleeping on the couch. Creaks and squeaks in the bed frame may be sorted by tightening screws or bolts, or adding soft feet to the bed legs. Perhaps a low mattress might suit you better – low pallets or floor mattresses will remove any chance of disruptive squeaking when you’re trying to fall asleep.
3. Create A New Sleep Routine
Bedtime routines are vital for good sleep hygiene. Try winding down towards bedtime by doing some nice relaxing activities rather than looking at your phone. You might like to try some natural sleep remedies like melanin or sleepy herbal teas which often contain lavender or chamomile.
Avoid anything which might raise your heart rate before bedtime such as exercise or watching a scary movie. And try not to eat a big meal within 3 hours before you go to bed. Head to bed at the same time each night – this can help train your brain to start the switching off process if repeated on a regular basis.
Napping during the daytime may make you unable to sleep at night. Try to limit this to 20-30 minutes per day, between 14:00 and 16:00 in the afternoon. Napping on the couch might be a factor which contributes to you also sleeping better on the couch at night, so try to nap only in bed if possible.
4. Get Rid Of Stress-Inducing Objects
Start by asking yourself: Could I remove any stress-related objects from the room? Should I put my computer somewhere else? Even a pile of work clothes in the corner can bring up feeling of stress and anxiety, and start you off thinking about all the tasks you have to get done tomorrow rather than settling into sleep mode.
If you don’t have space anywhere else to move you desk and computer, try creating separation between this area and the rest of your room. You could use a bookcase or room-divider, a curtain or a screen. Perhaps you can find some nice tall plants to create a natural screen and hide the study space when you climb into bed at night.
5. Discuss Your Sleep Problems With Your Sleep Partner
Talking about your problems with the person you share a bed with can help enormously. You may need to consider snoring solutions, use earplugs, or think about getting a bigger bed so you have a bit more space to move around without disturbing one another.
One handy tip is to get your own single duvets rather than one big double duvet – this removes the age-old cover-stealing problem! If the problem is bigger you may have to think about getting separate beds or sleeping in different rooms, a solution that works well for many couples.
6. Get Rid Of Screens And Devices
Stop looking at your phone before bedtime! Or any kind of screen for that matter. Using screens stimulates your brain and strains your eyes, neither of which is conducive for sleepiness. Removing as many devices from your bedroom as possible is advisable. Try creating an electronics hub in a different room in the house or apartment, ideally far away from your bedroom. (See this guide for more handy tips!)
7. Tried All These But Still Sleep Better On The Couch?
Never fear, there are a few ways to improve the couch sleeping experience and minimise associated problems:
- Cover the couch with a bed sheet (helps with temperature control and moisture wicking)
- Use your regular bedtime pillow, not couch cushions
- Try to consciously position yourself on back or side as you would in bed, to minimise back and neck pain
- Purchase a good quality sofa bed that can be converted easily into a bed. This provides better support and often incorporates a mattress. Alternatively a mattress can be added to improve sleep hygiene.