Positive associations with going to bed?
November 27, 2022 8:50 PM   Subscribe

I have a lifelong sleep aversion and have had success changing other habits by coupling them with something positive that I nearly always want to do (listening to my favorite podcasts during a run, for instance, or running a bubble bath with a nice candle when I really don’t want to shower, or scheduling a massage or foam roller session for afterward when I really don’t want to work out). What can I couple with going to bed on time?

I know you’re supposed to use your bed only for sex and sleeping, I guess, as part of sleep hygiene, but I pretty much never ever want to go to bed and the only thing that can get me in there is 1) promise of a nice relaxing vape (not such a great long term habit for me), 2) occasionally a good book (but I’m not always in the mood), 3) going on my phone and doing a bunch of random shit I didn’t have time for earlier in the day (categorizing spending in Mint, or shopping, for that matter). Any ideas?
posted by stoneandstar to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This totally goes against sleep hygiene recommendations, but I have a habit of drinking a cup of "sleep tea" (I like the Yogi Caramel Bedtime tea) reading random Wikipedia articles on my iPad while I'm falling asleep and I look forward to it all day.
posted by third word on a random page at 9:16 PM on November 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

A really nice pair of pyjamas, maybe? Really nice sheets?
posted by freethefeet at 9:17 PM on November 27, 2022 [5 favorites]

You could listen to podcasts in bed. Or audiobooks. Or stream some interesting radio show.

Instead of just doing random shit on your phone, is there a specific fun thing you regularly do on the phone that you could save to do only in bed? Or a new fun thing that could become a nightly habit? Maybe some game like Wordle or its multi-word variants (Dordle, Tridle, Octordle, etc.), or Semantle, Redactle or Worldle, or doing online Magnetic Poetry. Maybe reading Metafilter.
posted by Redstart at 9:40 PM on November 27, 2022

I have a book of crossword puzzles that are easy enough to not stress me out, but hard enough to not be boring (and a rule that I don't have to finish a puzzle before I move on to the next one) that lives next to my bed.

If the sensory aspects of a candle and bubbles get you in the bath, maybe an oil diffuser with a calming scent on the bedside table could work.
posted by Adifferentbear at 10:27 PM on November 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Seconding a set of luxurious sheets. They make a huge difference in how I feel about going to bed. But if that's not an option for you, maybe a nice linen spray?
posted by mezzanayne at 11:08 PM on November 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

Heating pad? Definitely lures me in on a cold night like these.

I do the thing you described of using the time to do my "not worthy" internet stuff and one is some particular word puzzle games that seem to free up just enough of my brain that I can suddenly notice just how tired I am. I know some folks use the crossword for this but I'll force myself to stay awake to finish a crossword, so it needs to be slightly less varied for me.
posted by Lady Li at 11:30 PM on November 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

I do in fact listen to podcasts. I have to listen to something to focus my mind and allow me to sleep. So I get excited about that. Then the next night I skip to where I fell asleep the night before and listen in chunks for my fav podcasts.

Calm and other apps have sleep and daily meditation which I’ve also done. Those daily updates are a nice incentive and they’ve definitely helped me totally just pass out.

I think sleep hygiene is about what helps YOU get the best sleep. For me, that’s sound.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:15 AM on November 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

I have a couple of night-time specific playlists that i subscribe to on BBC Sounds app. I’m usually asleep inside the first 15mins of a 90min or 120min playlist. They refresh more or less daily so there’s always a new one. The content is interesting enough to hear when I’m still conscious, but not enough to actually keep me engaged.
posted by Puppy McSock at 5:17 AM on November 28, 2022

If you have a sleep aversion, perhaps only using it for sleep and sex isn’t good for you. Maybe getting in bed without the idea “ugh, sleep is next” is better. Maybe your bed is where you get to watch your favorite show in your phone/tablet, or maybe call a friend and catch up, play candy crush, whatever.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:23 AM on November 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Do you find you identify with any aspects of Revenge Sleep Procrastination? There's all kinds of articles out there about it, and you may find some concepts and tips there that just help you reframe your thoughts about sleep and going to bed.

As someone who manages multiple flavors of insomnia, I don't even think the thought that "bed is for sleep and sex" with the implied "and You're Doing It Wrong otherwise" is good sleep hygiene. I do have a firm rule that bed is not for work or other things that boil down to simply fretting about life shit and accomplishing nothing - it's not like worrying actually solves problems, but if I must worry I should go do it on the couch or staring out the kitchen window while drinking water, which at least accomplishes something.

I am really into the idea that bed IS for your brain and body, and they are excited about the prospect even if you aren't so much. They are both built to need to lay down, mostly sleeping, for a third of the day (not specifically noted in that article, but as we generally understand it so far it seems like the CSF and blood housekeeping routines do not work very well against gravity and do need you closer to flat).

Part of your wind-down/post-lights-out routine can be doing bed stretches and then Progressive Muscle Relaxation (there are a million youtube videos and audio tracks on apps like Calm or Insight Timer, my go-to app, that do PMR routines in every possible length and voice so you can find one you like), both of which feel really good and can become part of what you look forward to through the evening.

I don't think phone screens are especially great for bedtime, and I would suggest you take advantage of any features in your phone OS that both warm the screen light and also kind of push you towards sleep. I turned on the "sleep" settings on my phone once I upgraded to iOS 16, and at my prescribed times it turns off all notifications on my phone, including the "unread" badges on alllllllll my apps, so that I do not have them beckoning me when I look at the phone. It is much easier for me to put on my audiobook or meditation track and put the phone down and turn out the light, or if I'm not quite settled yet it still makes it easy to ignore email and twitter and go straight to playing Bejeweled, which is my space-out game of choice.

I've told this story before, but an absolute game-changer in my life was simply reframing my thoughts about sleep to remove the anxiety about sleep, and for me it happened in an instant. I read the (probably apocryphal) story that goes around every time change about "biphasic sleep" with all these sketchy claims that cultures have been sleeping in two shifts with a wake-up period in the middle for all human time or maybe just the industrial revolution or whatever, but in that moment the mental image of Ben Franklin terrorizing his servants with his naked 3am "air baths" around the house completely changed my brain.

That night when I woke up at 3am I just laughed about my air bath, went to pee, and then got back in bed and got comfortable and thought about all the places in my imaginary mansion I might take my mid-night repose and fell back asleep in a few minutes rather than over an hour of clock-watching and stress. It just broke the stranglehold that Not Doing It Right had on me, and the idea that I was a Bad Sleeper and that it was something I needed to fix rather than just work with. With those ideas pushed aside, I could find lots to enjoy about bedtime and sleep and honestly I even enjoy my insomnia sometimes, because it's time I spend meditating or imagining I am in various elaborate sleeping situations - but never upsetting the staff - or at 3am today I thought up the Witch Hut Network, which is airbnb but for witches. The search engine has a slider between "cozy" and "spooky" so you can set your exact required vibe.

Sleep has become my friend, even if it can be kind of a high-maintenance one sometimes. I am pleased by the idea of my skeleton being so excited to go to bed every night, and that my brain would just like me to get out of the way so it can take out the trash and file the memories and spin up its DJ list of weird dreams for the night.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:52 AM on November 28, 2022 [9 favorites]

Thirding puzzle books.
posted by paduasoy at 11:26 AM on November 28, 2022

When I have trouble letting go of racing thoughts and just getting to sleep, an ounce (1/2 a shot) of bourbon or something is a pleasure, and gets me on my way, along with some form of old tv show.

Sex/ Masturbation is pleasant and tends to make me go to sleep after, at least at night.

A novel, not too highbrow/ complex, is good, except sometimes I keep reading way too long.

I walk the dog before bed, though the cold weather is getting annoying, brush my teeth, make sure I'm wearing something comfortable, use the bathroom and also have a glass of water, then climb under cozy blankets and a down comforter, so I am warm, fast. Being cold will keep me awake. The dog is learning to snuggle and that's a plus. If I'm tempted to us my phone (old tv shows have so many early appearances by interesting actors), I think about how nice it is to have a full night's sleep, that sleep is such a good feeling and will make the next day so much nicer. It's not I have to go to sleep, it's I get to go to sleep.
posted by theora55 at 4:27 PM on November 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

You could do a star chart; rewards are really effective. Any night that you are in bed by the planned time gets a star. 5 stars gets a sticker. 3 stickers gets a small but nice prize. It should all be visible; a calendar works well. Seeing progress is also a reward.
posted by theora55 at 4:29 PM on November 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older Looking for Ceiling Fan Recommendations   |   What does “all right” mean in Yorkshire, England? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.