The psychology behind why some people can always sleep while some can’t catch a single wink is a topic that is still being studied today, and in the many years since those studies begun, we have unravelled bits and pieces of this mystery. There are physical things, of course, such as having an old mattress or an injury that keeps you from getting comfortable at night, but where the solution for these is fairly straightforward (get a new Koala Mattress and seek a medical professional), the solution to the psychology behind sleeplessness is much more complex. Here we explore 5 of the factors that influence your sleep at night, and offer suggestions to aid in your return to normal waking hours.
Working in Bed
Starting off big here, we have the epidemic of sleeplessness that is being caused by working in your bed. we’re not suggesting you’re photocopying or faxing from between the sheets, just that people with jobs that allow them to work from home often use their laptops to work from, and these laptops often find their way onto the bed for a comfortable place to do work from.
The brain operates as a context-based entity, and there is context in everything, especially where you work. The office space you usually work in is a place you can’t unwind and relax in, because to your brain, the context of that place is a place where you and others work.
This is good, as it allows your brain to direct brain chemicals to the right areas of the brain and body based on the context of the situation you’re in, however it also means that if you work from home, or your room, or your bed especially, these places become your workplaces, and therefore your brain assigns the workplace context, and you struggle to sleep there at night. Try setting up shop elsewhere and you should see an improvement fairly quickly.
The science behind caffeine affecting your sleep isn’t that complicated. Caffeine activates your adrenal gland, causing small amounts of adrenaline to be released into your brain, waking you up. This will definitely keep you up at night, but what becomes really worrying is when you stop having caffeine but you continue to feel the effects. The placebo effect can play a part here, as if you are unwittingly swapped onto a decaf coffee at work, your brain can activate its own adrenal gland to make you wake up as it assumes it would do anyway. Let this cycle continue and you can find yourself lying awake at night because of your brain’s perception of the caffeine that isn’t really in your system. The brain is a powerful and slightly ridiculous organ that can do wonderful and annoying things, this being one of them.
Worrying and stressing before bed can sometimes be inevitable and unavoidable, however when the bed becomes a place to worry and stress, you will definitely find it difficult to sleep with any kind of regularity. Try to clear your mind with meditation before bed, as this will allow the bed to become a place of quiet reflection, not pressure-filled worry.
Readjust for Rest
Sometimes, after a traumatic or emotionally exhausting experience, the rooms in which this experience took place can have a “feel” about them that is not conducive to quality sleep. This is an effect of memory, and can heavily impact the way you navigate these physical spaces in future. It’s worth rearranging a room if an emotional event continues to affect you from that room, as that helps with moving on from that event, and will ultimately allow you more rest.
One of the more difficult things for people to do on this list is decluttering. Many people have bedrooms for of stuff that they haven’t touched or looked at in years but they still keep because it’s “special”. While this may be the case, clutter that builds up can also build up a background anxiety in our heads that makes it more and more difficult to sleep as time goes on. For the sake of a good night’s rest, it can be worth throwing out some of these items that you may not even remember purchasing.
The psychology behind sleep is fascinating and complex, however the solutions to some problems are harder to come across than others. If you find yourself unable to sleep for long periods of time, it’s worth consulting a physician to make sure there isn’t an underlying health issue present.