Better Sleep in Less Than a Week: Day 3

Day 3 Lesson: Beds Are for Sleep

You’ve already heard the conventional advice: sleep in a cool, dark, room with white noise or nature sounds, don’t watch TV or look at your phone before bed, and so on.

Today, I want to help you consider what would feel best for you in your sleep space and how we can also incorporate the concept of stimulus control.

Whoa, that sounds super technical! All I mean by stimulus control is that we want to make the place where you sleep be the place where you sleep.

This means that your bed is to be used only for sleep and sexual activity. That’s it.

⚠️ Caveat for cosleepers and nursing mamas: Bed is also for those activities — cosleeping and nursing — so you might want to revisit this exercise in the future, when your bed is just for you. We want to honor the fact that cosleeping and nursing in bed can improve sleep for some parents, and that these are deeply personal choices.

Day 3 Activity: Bed Activity Audit

Let’s consider how you use this space. Do you work, eat, or hang out in bed? Is it a place where family members gather for entertainment, comfort, or attention?

Our goal is to help you sleep better. To sleep better, it will help to break any associations you have with your bed that are not about sleep.

Guess what? It’s time to move those non-sleeping activities out of bed. Ideally, we would even move them out of the bedroom. Go ahead and engage in whichever activities from the list that you want to, just don’t do it in bed.

Over the coming week, try limiting the non-sleeping use of your bed and see what happens.

Worrying in Bed

One last thought on stimulus control: Is bed a place where you worry, toss and turn, and generally feel stressed out? It is time to say goodbye to thinking those thoughts when you’re in bed. Come back tomorrow to learn clear, evidence-based strategies for doing just that!

In the meantime, let’s put a time limit on worrying in bed: If you’ve been trying to go to sleep for more than 10 minutes, get up and do something else. (Your bed is not a place for worrying! The more you lie in bed worrying, the more you reinforce an association between bed and worrying. We want to break that association.)

When you start to feel sleepy, you can return to bed. (We don’t want you in bed unless you feel sleepy, because bed is only a place for sleeping.)


So, your homework is:

  • Complete the Bed Activity Audit above
  • Limit non-sleeping uses of your bed
  • Limit time lying awake in bed to 10-15 minutes. If you’re still awake after 15 minutes, get up and do something else.

Good luck, friend, and sleep well,