In this lesson, we're going to discuss what you should be doing, and not be doing, while actually in your bed. There are only two activities that should happen in your bed: sleep, obviously, and sex. We’ll get into that in a minute.
If you are doing anything else in bed, stop it! As I told you a few times now, our brains associate with objects and activities very well. We are going to use that to continue to promote good sleep. If the only thing that happens in your bed is sleep, then pretty soon, your brain and body are going to associate your bed with sleeping. Remember that Opening Monologue Effect? This is the same kind of thing. Pretty soon, you'll crawl into bed and somehow feel more tired. Your brain will associate getting in bed with sleep.
The more stuff you do in bed, the more non-sleep options your brain has to choose from. Do you play on your phone, computer, or tablet? Do you read in bed? Students, do you do your homework in bed? That all needs to stop tonight!
If you watch TV in bed, then your brain has another activity association to choose from. When you crawl into bed and are ready to sleep, your brain says, “I'm in bed; it must either be time for sleep or time for TV.” And of course, when you want to sleep, your brain will want to stay up watching TV.
If you aren't doing anything in bed except staring at the ceiling, trying to go to sleep, get up. It should take no more than 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you've been in bed for 20 minutes, get up and do something until you feel tired again. Remember, we don't want you associating your bed with being awake.
The only other thing you should be doing in your bed besides sleep is sex, and here's why. There are hormones released in your brain during orgasm that promote sleep. So after sex, you are more primed to fall asleep. At least sex that results in an orgasm. Dr. Jess O’Reilly, a sexologist, says there are 3 hormones directly related to sleep that are released in your brain after an orgasm. They are serotonin (which helps to maintain normal sleep cycles), norepinephrine (which aids REM sleep), and vasopressin (which boosts sleep quality). Several other hormones are also released, and one of them is oxytocin. While this is not a “sleep chemical” specifically, it does indirectly promote sleep, because it is a stress-decreaser. According to Certified Clinical Sexologist and sexuality counselor, Dr. Dawn Michael, “oxytocin can make you feel calm, and that can have a sleepy effect.”
That’s all well and good if you have an orgasm. If you don't achieve orgasm and you're “left hanging” without that release, that will actually keep you amped up and make it difficult to fall asleep. This could quickly turn into a whole different discussion about relationships and sexual satisfaction: I'll let someone else tackle that topic.
For our purposes here, if you did not achieve an orgasm, if you are sexually frustrated and now wide awake, get out of bed and do something until you are tired. We don't want you associating your bed with being awake or with being sexually frustrated.
So remember: the only two things you should be doing in bed are sleeping or having sex — nothing else.
The next lesson is entitled: Daytime Activities to Help You Sleep at Night. In it, we will discuss the things you can do throughout the waking day, that will help you to sleep better at night. Until then, happy Zzz’s.