let's talk about chronic couch sleeping. what do?
October 18, 2018 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Several points here I'd like input on: A) Any other chronic couch sleepers out there? What's your story? B) Is having a couch instead of a bed (as in, in your bedroom) a weird/unacceptable thing? C) How do I handle this?

(A) Over the last few years, I have found myself sleeping 98% of the time on the couch. This has corresponded almost exactly with a significant increase in stress (leaving college / taking on a job I don't enjoy much) and depression. I have some sleep apnea, so side-sleeping is preferable, and I tend to flail around in my sleep, so having a couch cushion back keeps me from some unconscious stunts. It's also very comforting to have something to snuggle into/against.

When I sleep on my bed, I tend to wake up every 45 minutes, feeling unsettled/uneasy. And if I'm honest, I'm having a hard time distinguishing between "I like couches" and "my bedroom is stressful for some reason." (Evidence: I will choose to sleep on an uncomfortable couch at my parent's house instead of their standard bed in a bedroom. Maybe I hate bedrooms?) This is why I'm interested in others' stories -- there could be some aspect to this that I'm not aware of yet, but some others may know through hindsight.

(B) So couch-sleeping was fine when I lived by myself and is less fine now with a roommate, whom I enjoy and want to keep. We've had frank conversations about this with regards to future living plans, and she pointed out that it doesn't make sense to keep a bed if I just end up sleeping on the couch all the time -- why not just put a couch in my room and ditch the bed?

This is reasonable, but I find myself balking at it. It seems silly, but whenever I hear people talking about being an adult, it always seems to come down to "is your bed a mattress on the floor or a futon? You're not an adult." Granted, it's nobody's damn business but my own, but I could use some reassurance that this isn't my first step towards a life of unparalleled and juvenile deviance. (Relevant note here: I am not attached to a significant other and have absolutely no desire for one. Sexy fun is not a priority for this sleeping arrangement.)

(C) Put a couch in my room? Get a futon so I can try to get the best of both worlds? Train myself to sleep on a mattress again? Just get a new mattress? Go to therapy to sleep in the socially-accepted sleeping room? Hive mind, where do I go from here?
posted by snerson to Health & Fitness (47 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This may not be an issue for you but I developed a skin reaction to my couch in the summer. Fearing bed bugs, I called in a pest guy. No bugs, but it turns out the couch was infested with dust mites and I’m severely allergic. Couches are harder to cover properly and keep clean and mite-free. If there is a chance this could be an issue for you, a futon would be a better choice than a couch.
posted by ficbot at 7:29 PM on October 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Day beds are nice. I have one from IKEA and used it as a primary sleep spot for a while. Nice metal frame and comfy mattress.
posted by dtp at 7:30 PM on October 18, 2018 [18 favorites]

For my 16th birthday, I got a couch for my room. I slept more on the couch than in my bed after that. (It was a really comfy couch from the Salvation Army. I would often sleep on it after I got married when the mister was snoring.)
posted by Ruki at 7:31 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sleep wherever you are comfortable and can get a good night's sleep.
posted by Dolley at 7:31 PM on October 18, 2018 [24 favorites]

It might be weird but I don't know why it'd be unacceptable. To who? Your roommate? They already know you like sleeping on a couch. You should prioritize your sleep health first, your roommate's comfort next, and your perception of society's desires third.

Maybe just put your bed in storage/a closet until you're sure of the couch-in-the-bedroom solution. That way if you find out the problem is bedrooms, not beds, you haven't gotten rid of possibly a perfectly good bed.
posted by ProtoStar at 7:32 PM on October 18, 2018 [9 favorites]

Put a body pillow or yoga bolster in your bed to simulate the couch back’s ability to keep you from rolling over?
posted by matildaben at 7:32 PM on October 18, 2018 [20 favorites]

Sleep wherever you want! Experiment! Do what works for you.

One of my favorite places to sleep ever was this one summer when I was in college and there was a couch on the back porch and all of my roommates were gone for the summer, so nobody was there to feel like I was in their space, and so I slept out on the porch couch every single night. It was great weather for it. I woke up to fresh air and morning sunshine and it was the best thing ever. A++ would sleep on couch again.
posted by aniola at 7:33 PM on October 18, 2018 [10 favorites]

I was a chronic couch sleeper but I lived in my own place with a sometimes-roommate so it was less of a thing. It was one of those things I... eventually got over? I don't even know what the deal was. Basically I had one place with a BIG bedroom where I could have a bed and a couch and over time I would be more and more on the couch. I liked that it was tipped and I would sort of stay in one position. I'd usually sleep in a sleeping bag. Then I moved into a new place where I only had a normal sized bedroom and I moved the couch in and no bed. I had like a pull-out futon for guests. I admit, I didn't feel very grown up but to be honest I don't feel very grown up NOW and I am a very middle-aged lady.

My guess, based on nothing, is that your roommate mostly just wants you to sleep in your room and doesn't care how you do it, but that seems to be the most convincing way to do that. If it were me I think I'd have a small bed and a small couch. This way if you wind up in an accidental-sexytimes situation (could happen) you have a bed option but you basically sleep where you like which is the couch. I think sleeping on a couch is basically saying "I don't care what other people think of me and I am not looking to date" which... maybe that is you in which case, excellent! Otherwise I'd give it some sort of thought and make maybe a "this year" plan and not a "lifetime" plan (i.e. don't invest in a really nice couch and have no bed. Just my $.02
posted by jessamyn at 7:33 PM on October 18, 2018 [33 favorites]

I don't know if this could be problematic for your body in the long run, but that would be my only concern. It is actually an incredibly adult thing to do to think rationally about what works best for you and implement it as much as possible. Sounds like sleeping on a couch works really well for you. No reason to mess with having a bed in your room for appearance's sake.

You could also got a sofa bed, if you can save up for one. Test some out and see if any work really well for sleeping on in couch form. If for some reason you need a bed, just pull it out. That's fine.
posted by sockermom at 7:37 PM on October 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

A) I am not a chronic couch sleeper, though I've known people who were, or whose sleep difficulties manifested as preferring to sleep not-in-bed.

B) Replacing your bed with a couch mostly doesn't seem weird or unacceptable, apart from the possible cleanliness issue. I feel like most people sweat, fart, and shed hair and skin way more overnight in bed than sitting in chairs, which is why most people use sheets. You might want to experiment with couch-ish textures you like curling up on and sleeping with your face smooshed against, since that might be a contributing factor. If you mostly sleep clothed, with your face on a pillow, and wash/change pillowcases regularly this might not be a problem.

C) It sounds like you need to change up your bed situation. Options, from least to most costly:

C-i) get a body pillow, if you want something to cuddle against that inhibits rolling over. The cheap-ish body pillows tend to fall apart relatively quickly but they're also far less effort and money than furniture. If you've been sleeping with your head or pillow against the arm of a couch, get two or three firm pillows to mimic that effect. Side sleepers tend to prefer firmer pillows.

C-ii) get a more couch-like bed. If you like feeling enclosed/not seeing your own clutter, you can get a cheap-ish canopy or bunk bed frame for your existing mattress. If you like being able to fall asleep watching TV or fiddling with things, maybe set up a monitor/laptop/whatever on a bedside table. If you like having your sleep surface at a little bit of an angle, maybe put in bed risers and/or bricks to tilt the surface in the preferred way.

C-iii) get an actual couch or sofa bed.

welcome to being a grownup, you can organize your space how you want!
posted by bagel at 7:47 PM on October 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

You can get bed frames that are basically big couches with enough space for a mattress, if you just like the form factor/like having that firm back area. Maybe a firmer mattress would also be more comfortable.

Maybe your depressed brain is trying to protect you from harm by discouraging you from sleeping on your own. Maybe if you put on a podcast very low before you fall asleep.

I just watched The Shape Of Water and the main character sleeps on her couch every night and it's never explained or addressed, so, that must mean it's something that good people do.
posted by bleep at 8:01 PM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Getting a couch or a fouton for your bedroom is fine. Sleeping in shared space and drooling, sweating and farting ona shared amenity in a shared part of your home is the part that is juvenile. So just fix that part and do whatever.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:01 PM on October 18, 2018 [25 favorites]

PS: SInce sleeping on a couch for years is going to trash your back, you might want to investigate the alternative of sleeping in a bed with a full length body pillow for a similar sleep experience!
posted by DarlingBri at 8:03 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your roommate just wants you to not sleep on the shared couch. She's right, that's invasive and gross. Beyond that she doesn't care how you sleep and neither does anyone else who isn't sleeping with you. This isn't something you owe anyone an explanation about.

Get a cheap couch, one that can be covered with a washable couch cover (also get the cover.) Sleep the sleep of the just.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:14 PM on October 18, 2018 [22 favorites]

The sleep apnea could be major contributor to both getting better sleep on a couch where you stay in a side-sleep position more easily as well as the depression you're experiencing.

Start aggressively working toward getting a proper sleep study done. Sleep apnea is serious and dangerous. It also contributes to depression.

That said, there's nothing wrong with a couch in your bedroom! In fact, having your own sleeping couch that you can properly outfit with sheets and bedding sounds preferable to sleeping on a communal couch in a common area shared with roommates.
posted by quince at 8:22 PM on October 18, 2018 [13 favorites]

I had a roommate who started sleeping on the couch every night and got defensive when we asked her about it. It culminated in kicking her out. Get a couch for your bedroom if you like, but for the love of god stop sleeping on the couch in the living room. It's insanely invasive and annoying for roommates.
posted by cakelite at 8:30 PM on October 18, 2018 [9 favorites]

I am also a chronic couch sleeper due to my sleep apnea - it really does help keep me on my side in a way that a body pillow in bed wouldn't be able to do. I also feel really self-conscious about my snoring so I feel like my partner and I are both able to get more restful sleep this way... except that I wake up in the morning and emotionally feel bad for leaving my partner alone all night.

I don't have a good answer or solution; just wanted to say you're not alone.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:39 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: extra details, after reading comments --

Body pillow: already tried, doesn't seem to make much of a difference -- still get the tossing/turning/fitful sleep. Daybed: I used to have one and hated it.

Sleep study: already done, I have a very mild form of sleep apnea that still involves snoring and being exhausted. Can't imagine what the full-blown disorder must be like. Insurance is still deciding if it wants to pay for a helpful mouth... thing (not a CPAP machine).

Farting/shedding/sweating in your sleep: I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't even thought of that. :( Talk about an impetus for change. My roommate deserves better.

I also hadn't considered couch = bad for long term back health. Futons don't seem to have the same concern attached, but they seem very similar, so I'm not sure why. Any ideas?
posted by snerson at 8:47 PM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I’m also suggesting an ikea daybed. This is the one I have, and I used it for my main bed for years when I had a studio. I enjoy my large bed now, but sometimes I still sneak back to it for a night. I think it’s the comfort of the 3 “walls” around me.
Unless you have a very expensive bed setup, don’t worry about ditching it. (I mean, if it’s had little use, sell it!!) You need to get good sleep. It’s probably the single most important thing for your health. If you get better sleep on a couch for now, do it. I doubt it will stay that way forever. I used to be able to sleep on a rock if I had to. Now I need fancy mattresses because I’m getting older. Do it while you can.
posted by greermahoney at 8:50 PM on October 18, 2018

This daybed might be interesting for you, though it's really expensive. Do you plan to have anyone spend the night with you in the future? It does seem like a bed would be good for visitors, but a daybed or some other couch-like hack could give you the side support you need most of the time.
posted by pinochiette at 8:50 PM on October 18, 2018

After years of decreasing ability to sleep on a flat bed of any material, which led to more than a year of only sleeping on the sofa, I bought a giant foam bag (link to an updated version of the one I bought). This served for several years, though 80 pounds of foam is quite inconvenient and takes up a lot of space.

A couple of years ago I started sleeping in a hammock. Best sleep ever. A compact stand will fit in about 9-10 ft, and while the hammock it comes with is pretty decent, it is possible to use other hammocks with the stand. I have made my own modular hammock system so that I can wash the fabric, which is nice for every day use.

I'd have just put a sofa in my bedroom, but it would be near impossible to get a usably long and comfortable one up the stairs in my house.

It doesn't matter what you sleep on, as long as you do sleep.

Also, for what it's worth, despite years of not sleeping in beds, I do not have back problems.
posted by monopas at 9:49 PM on October 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

I suspect the issue for your roommate is less about shedding/sweating/etc and more about the sense that you are taking over a shared space every night (do you have different schedules? as a night owl who's often up late, I'd feel constrained from using common areas where someone was trying to sleep, and I imagine it would be similar for an early riser who had to avoid the sleeping person during their morning routine. It could also be an impediment to having guests over, if that's a factor).

I think getting a couch for your room is a fine idea (ignore anyone who tells you it's weird or not acceptable for an adult! Adults do all kinds of things, and life is a rich tapestry and you should feel 100% free to curate your personal space in a way that makes you comfortable). But you say you're not sure how much of this is the physical form of the couch vs. a dislike of your bedroom or bedrooms in general, so it might be worth trying to dig down and figure out why—do you subconsciously feel more secure in a space that's shared, where other people might be around or easily accessible? Have you had negative past experiences in bedrooms that make them feel more threatening or lonely? If you can pinpoint something that's making you uneasy about sleeping in the bedroom, you might be able to find other ways to alleviate that, whether it's a white noise machine or leaving your door open or getting some cozy bedding that makes you feel more comfortable in the space.
posted by karayel at 9:54 PM on October 18, 2018 [15 favorites]

I loooove couch sleeping. I find it easier I think because I'm a bad sleeper and there feels like there is less stress to sleep when on a couch - so ironically, I sleep better. If you really feel like you *should* have a bed, consider a daybed with a million pillows to stimulate the couch atmosphere.
posted by Toddles at 10:22 PM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Seconding the sheets comment, i.e., it's not about whether you're sleeping on a mattress or a sofa that makes you an adult, it's about whether or not you're sleeping on sheets. No sheets is virtually equivalent to never washing your sheets.

Anecdata: even though I have a comfortable bed in the bedroom, I often sleep on my couch (sheets are kept in nearby basket). I attribute this to the fact that when I'm alone, I don't have a standard "sleep routine", e.g., I have never been able to just get in bed by myself, turn off the light, and lie still until I fall asleep—or read/watch TV until I fall asleep. I don't like the transition from awake to sleep and vice versa, no doubt related to the threat of sleep paralysis, which I experience several times/year. In addition, my sleep schedule varies wildly.

My L-shaped sofa was designed for sleep. It's actually 2 sofas, each measuring 27" wide, 75" long. The seat cushions are 7" of foam mattress, topped with 2" of memory foam. When arranged side-by-side, it's a standard full size bed. However, I'm comfortable just sleeping on one side of the L, so I don't go to the trouble of rearranging furniture every night.
posted by she's not there at 10:49 PM on October 18, 2018

Get a lazy boy recliner for your room. I get my best s<in mine, but only use it at night for sleep once in a while.
posted by AugustWest at 11:20 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

What you need is an Ikea Kivik. Everything zips off and you can wash it. I covered the foam inside the cushions on mine with puppy pads taped together because I have kids and pets, it seems to make the cushions extra comfy for sleeping. You don’t necessarily need to do this, but we sweat a lot when we sleep + dust mites.

You could also get a pull out couch for when you have company stay over and you want a bigger sleep surface.

I am constantly posting about my Kivik here because I don’t know where this inexpensive and stylish item has been all of my life. It replaced a very swank and comfy Italian leather couch our feral rescue cat destroyed. That cat did me a favor!
posted by jbenben at 11:51 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lived with a couch-sleeping roommate for a year. Can confirm it is awkward in a shared space.

Are you worried about bringing a date home? Can you fit a couch AND a bed in your room?

If it's just you and you don't require a bed for, um, activities...just get a nice firm couch. It won't hurt your back more than a cheap mattress, and you can at least sleep well while you consider alternatives.

If it makes you feel less adult, remember that anyone seeing your bedroom should like you enough not to judge you. And if they do...that is not someone to invite back. Mayans slept in hammocks, the Huns slept on horseback, and you sleep on a couch. Really, it's not that extreme when you think about it.
posted by ananci at 11:54 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Did you used to have a different pre-sleep routine? I had a similar problem with fitful sleep in my bed.

I realized that this started when I couldn’t read books in bed anymore before going to sleep. So I started reading books again before sleep, but changed it to reading in the living room and then going to bed. That was enough like my old routine that my brain accepted it and I had restful sleep again.

Oh, and I also found another routine, which was listening to podcasts in bed, though the danger is that I fall asleep right away and get tangled in headphones.

I’m not saying that reading or podcasts are the solution, but that some brains like habitual routines for things like going to sleep, so if your routine otherwise changed, it might be useful to adapt your old routine to your current situation.
posted by Kattullus at 11:57 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Look, do what you want. You're an adult. You have my permission to tell anyone who thinks they can dictate your sleeping arrangements in your own damn bedroom to fuck right off. Your bedroom is private. It's a space that exists just for you. Sleep in a damn ball pit, if you want. Sleep hanging from the ceiling like a bat! Your bedroom, your preference. Is a couch instead of a bed unusual? Yes. Is "unusual" the same as "bad"? No.

I sleep on a low (6" off the floor) bed with sleeping bags on it instead of blankets. My grandfather slept the last ten years of his life in his La-Z-Boy. Lots of people have unusual sleeping arrangements, you just don't hear about it because it's nobody's business. Sleep how you like it.

The only drawback I can think of is that a couch is a bit narrow to share comfortably with a partner.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:29 AM on October 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I slept on an IKEA Friheten for a couple years, usually converted to a bed but could be done without.

Now I sleep in a bed, but I’ve recently gotten a weighted blanket. It’s helping with the “feeling protected” sensation.
I am writing this at near to 4 am though.. so ymmv.
posted by nat at 3:41 AM on October 19, 2018

Have you tried using a bed that has its against the wall rather than having the head to the wall, and getting special firm pillows for the back and sides? The firmest pillows are usually pillowcases stuffed with old clothes or bedding, although they can be lumpy if not stuffed carefully.

Much depends on the position you sleep on the couch. You may be using a stuffed arm of the couch to sleep semi reclining on your side, and that is hard to recreate with a daybed or regular bed. But hard is not impossible. You could custom make, or have someone make you a headboard that provides the same bulk, stability and support as the padded arm of a decent couch. For hygiene reasons you'd want to cover it in something removable and washable, like a folded twin bed sheet, so it wouldn't have to look fantastic. Some lumber and long twist nails, quilt batting, upholstery or jean fabric and a staple gun could make you a decent couch arm that was the length of the head of twin mattress.

My father chose to sleep in a chair with his feet up in front of the TV for the last years of his live. This created a problem at end-of-life as eventually he could not lie flat.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:43 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am reading your question as if it was "why should I sleep on a bed-shaped object instead of a couch-shaped object" and I had a hard time wondering why the roommate would care what you sleep on, and then I wondered if the question is actually "why should I sleep in my private room instead of in space I share with my roommate" because if that's the actual question OF COURSE you should sleep in your own room JEEZ and on whatever surface allows you to get a good night's sleep.

I dunno, though, it isn't clear.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:51 AM on October 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

One of my uncles has slept in an armchair the whole time I've known him. His back was injured in a construction accident and it's just what's most comfortable/best for him. When I was a kid, his chair was in their living room and technically fair game to use during the day, but only his sons really did. He got remarried when I was a teen and moved his chair into his/their bedroom at that point, which was tremendously less awkward. Nobody had really wanted to tell him that sleeping in shared furniture in a common room was weird since it was his own house and anyway the result of a disability, but that was literally the only aspect we cared about. If he'd had the chair in his room the whole time, I doubt anyone outside of his immediate family would have even known about it, much less judged him.
posted by teremala at 5:08 AM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

I wouldn’t be bothered by skin or farting so don’t worry about that too much. I agree that you should sleep in your bedroom, though. I also love couch sleeping because of the snuggle factor and a body pillow isn’t a substitute; it’s not hard/firm enough. A padded headboard plus a super firm mattress might work. Or you could just couch it up!

If you’re worried about the roommate situation, you could propose moving the old couch back into your room and get a new one for the common room.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:39 AM on October 19, 2018

Are you me? Because I am also a somewhat depressed side-sleeper with mild sleep apnea who woke up all the time in bed and loved sleeping on the couch. There was a leak in my bedroom earlier this year that took a looong time to be repaired, so I found myself sleeping on the couch in the living room for a few months. I got amazing sleep, less back and hip pain, and just felt super cozy. Plus, I realized that my living room is darker than my bedroom, and my eyes were pointing into darkness instead of the lightest part of the room. But for me, staying in the living room was also tied into being depressed and unmotivated to fix my bedroom back up after the leak was repaired. I decided to try to recreate the same positives I was feeling on the couch in my bedroom.

Here's what worked for me:
-I got a new mattress topper
-I rotated my bed so that it's now in the corner of the room instead of floating. This helps me face into the darkest part of the room as well (I'm also a side sleeper)
-I put pillows up against the wall if I want them to recreate that cocoon feeling but often I don't need them
-As a bonus- the vent no longer blows directly on my face

I now sleep like the dead unless I have major life stress going on. I really encourage you to do whatever it takes to sleep better even if it means getting a couch and putting it in your bedroom- it's made a world of difference for me!
posted by Mouse Army at 6:08 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Quick question: you mentioned you've tried a body pillow. To clarify, have you tried one that looks like a line or a U?

I realize the U ones are mostly advertised as maternity pillows, but they provide a lot of that couch-like support.
posted by papergirl at 7:23 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

If it worries you why not put your bed against a wall & get a booster or you can get foam backs for a day bed type thing & put it against the wall & try snuggling into that.

It could just be your current mattress is not right for you, sometimes we get so used to our mattresses we don't notice that they are not actually comfortable & are causing us pain. I used to get pain in my hips & shoulders & just thought it was the price of getting old, but we got a new mattress & suddenly I don't feel so old anymore. My husband also snores less with the new mattress as he can sleep comfortably on his side.'

But if your couch works for you, sleep there. Seriously life is too short to have shitty sleep.
posted by wwax at 7:29 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

During my worst depression, I would sleep on the couch in the living room at my parents' house, because I felt less isolated. (Not really safer, as the living room was on the first floor and had a door leading into the dark backyard, but hey, I was suicidally depressed, I didn't care about burglars.)

I definitely cannot sleep unless I have my back to the wall. When I first moved in with my now-husband, we had the standard bed in the middle of the room, and it was okay because he was there, and I had a body pillow, but now we sleep in a tiny bedroom with walls on every side and a sliding door at the foot to crawl out of, and even when he's away, I feel pretty safe. I also snuggle my big stuffed turtle who's been with me through the worst times, but I guess having your back to the wall and an elevated head might help you more. If this is about feeling safe and enclosed, you don't happen to have a closet big enough for a couch?
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:38 AM on October 19, 2018

Just put a couch in your room! If it's in your budget, get a new couch for the living room and put the couch you're sleeping on now in your room.
posted by juniperesque at 8:08 AM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Get a couch with a bed inside; save up for the big bucks ones that don't have the horrible bar in the middle of your back. Sleep on the couch part when there's no-one that you care about to judge. If you need the leg room some time in the future you've got the option.
posted by h00py at 8:41 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

About a year ago I got a La-z-boy recliner, top of the line model with big footrest (long enough that my feet don't hang over; tried two diff. of same model, one footrest long enough, one not). Anyhow, I live in one room and the recliner and the twin bed made the space slightly crowded. And then I discovered that napping in the recliner was very comfortable, so I tried sleeping in it. Lo, my knee, hip, and shoulder pain lessened greatly. Tested it for a few months, same result. Then I got rid of the bed and all is well in sleepland. On the other hand, if you anticipate having overnight guests, a pull-out sofa is a good idea, which you can customize and sleep on as a couch most of the time. Good luck.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:43 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I slept on a couch for about a year once. I liked it. It's not so bad, if you have the right couch. (I eventually stopped when I bought an air mattress, which is another unconventional sleeping surface that people ask about often on here. I guess I'm an expert on weird sleep?)

Anyway, it's pretty easy to rig up a couch with sheets and blankets. Even easier if you have a couch dedicated to sleeping. One flat sheet over the cushions, another flat sheet over the back, and then a third flat sheet as your actual sheet. It's not going to look put together like a made bed, but it gives you the cozy feel of clean sheets and takes care of the sweating/shedding problem. The hardest thing is the pillow problem, but that's extremely couch- and person-dependent, and it doesn't sound like this is even a problem for you yet.

I'm with the people who say the problem with your roommate isn't couchsleeping per se, but common area sleeping. It would be really weird if your bed were in the living room, too. It's also unfair, both for the reasons cited above (depriving your roommate of the ability to use the common area) and because you're also taking up space in the apartment that you're not using (i.e., your bedroom). What are you using your bedroom for, if not sleeping? A walk-in closet? Storage? I'd be pissed too if I were paying the same amount for rent, but getting so much less.

If you plan to continue sleeping on couches (and I don't see why you shouldn't), there are really only two options: You either have to put a couch in your bedroom, or you have to move to a different apartment without a roommate.

And if you do determine that having a bed option would be helpful, allow me to suggest an air mattress. If you don't need to use it, it stores in a small bag that you'll never notice. If you do, it's a pretty comfortable sleeping option, assuming you get the right one. Much cheaper than buying a pull-out couch or a daybed.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:52 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh my gosh oh my gosh, I have been doing this, over just the past couple of weeks! And I also have a sleep disorder and stress/anxiety issues - and I have a theory about why the couch-sleeping is related!

I'm having a hard time distinguishing between "I like couches" and "my bedroom is stressful for some reason."

I have a sleep disorder myself, and recent stresses have made it flare up worse than normal. A few weeks ago I found myself on the couch one night on my laptop/watching TV, and I suddenly realized I was tired. So without even getting up from the couch, I turned off all the electronics and laid down under a blanket. And I fell asleep MUCH FASTER than normal. So I've kept it up, sleeping on the couch about half the time over the past few weeks.

Reasons I have pinpointed:

-As a person with a sleep disorder, my bed/bedroom itself can be a source of stress and anxiety and shame. When I get into bed, I have all these thoughts like "I should have gone to bed earlier but I'm not even tired and omg I need to fall asleep RIGHT NOW or else I'll oversleep again and probably be fired but I just know I'll never manage it," etc. Not conducive to falling asleep.

-By contrast, the couch is a neutral space where all sorts of things happen routinely, and "falling asleep on the couch" is most typically something that people do by mistake. Not only is the couch free of all those negative stress triggers - it is also a place where you are likely to become sleepy, after which you can just lie down and go to sleep without having to get up and go to a different room and maybe do a whole nighttime ritual first. Sleep can just happen on a couch, without the sense of obligation.

If these factors ring a bell for you... then, well, I'm not sure that replacing your bed with a bedroom couch will necessarily work for you. The whole point is that you are avoiding your bedroom and sleeping on something that is not explicitly set aside for sleeping in. If you go that route, I think you should put a couch in your room in addition to the bed, and then make a point of using that couch as a normal couch for normal couch activities.

tl;dr: The typical advice given to bad sleepers of "never use your bed for anything but sleep" can actually be terrible advice for people with sleep anxiety because it makes getting into bed a high-stakes activity with a failure condition, and couch-sleeping seems to short-circuit that anxiety.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:39 AM on October 19, 2018 [18 favorites]

I have sleep anxiety and there's something about just gently falling asleep in a place that you hang out in to relax and be comfortable, like a couch, that is so much better than a bed, where you're under pressure to sleep. showbiz_liz is correct about the whole "never use your bed for anything but sleep" being terrible advice because for some of us it turns the bed into a horrible place where we fail at sleeping and then it becomes aversive.

Figure out what works for you for sleeping. If it's the couch, great. Move the couch into your room. If it's a bed of some style with some modifications, great. Get those modifications and put them in your room. Lots of people who have back injuries sleep in recliners, lots of people with mental health issues sleep in whatever way they can - on a couch, in a closet, whatever works for them. It's not weird to sleep on a couch, or on a futon (I'm an adult who absolutely prefers futons), or whatever works for you, but sleep in your bedroom because always sleeping in the living room when you have roommates is obnoxious.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

A body pillow recommendation: last year I bought a memory foam body pillow. It's like curling up with a concrete slab, in a good way, and would probably also be very comforting against your back if you wanted to put the bed against the wall and use the pillow as a "back".

Do whatever you want to do, but don't do it in shared space. And it would probably be better to cover the cushions with something washable, whether that's a sheet and mattress pad or a cheap comforter folded in half or a sleeping bag or something.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:23 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’m on Team Couch In Your Room. I spent multiple happy adult years sleeping on a couch. I bought it a twin latex topper and used twin sheets but it still had a back and could be used for sitting/sprawling/leaning in a pinch.

Or think about it like this: if you had a couch in your room which was primarily dedicated to your sleep, would you be happy to sleep there? Or would you still want to crash in the living room? The former seems to indicate a preference for slim supportive sleeping furniture and the latter seems to indicate some kind of Issue with bedrooms. Figuring out which one it is can help you know whether you’ll find a better answer at the therapist’s office or IKEA.
posted by hungrytiger at 11:40 PM on October 19, 2018

Response by poster: Hey all, thanks again for the answers. Some updates for those keeping score at home...

I spoke with my roommate and pledged to move out of the living room by the end of the year. In the meantime, I'm more conscientious about keeping bed linens and whatnot folded and tucked away during the day, so the room looks friendlier.

After a lot of shopping around, I landed on an IKEA FLOTTEBO (https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S99222238/). I like that I can move the "back" / "cushions" / "triangle thingies" around, and the bed part is full-sized, which is a step up from a twin (nice). I splurged and got some nice bed linens, and spent some other $ fixing up the room (putting up curtains on a patch of wall that annoys me, getting underbed storage so my cat can't hide under it, etc).

It's very nice! the movable cushions are delightful and the two nights I've slept in it so far, I drifted off quickly and with minimal fuss. Breaking in the mattress kind of sucks however -- I've had horrible back pain from sleeping on it. Funnily enough, the model in the IKEA showroom, pounded into soft submission by untold hordes of butts, was much more comfortable.
The internet has told me that sleeping on a mattress for ~30 days to break it in is necessary, so I'm spending evenings reading and lounging in bed, giving myself plenty of time to wind down and feel sleepy. I might end up with a mattress topper, but in the meantime, I'm just practicing relaxing in my bedroom, associating it with rest again.

I'll try to update again in the future, so other couch-sleepers can see how it goes :)
posted by snerson at 8:17 PM on November 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

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