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Why you should treat your bed like your toilet

Treating your bedroom more like your toilet can help you get better sleep.

Yes, you read that right.

“Your brain and your toilet have a very simple relationship. You go there for one reason,” said Dr. Sarah Zallek, medical director for the sleep center at OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute.

Programming your brain

Over and over, we go to the bathroom, see the toilet and use it. Quickly, our brains figure out this pattern and make an association between the location and the physical act.

“If you’re going to go on a road trip, and you know you’ll be in the car for several hours, you might not feel like you have to go to the bathroom right then and there. But once you walk into the bathroom and see the toilet, what happens? It starts to feel like you have to go,” Dr. Zallek said.

Simplify your routine

married couple in pajamas making their bedUsing your bed for one thing, and one thing only can help you develop this same kind of neurological relationship so that when you get in bed, your brain knows it’s time to go to sleep.

Dr. Zallek recommends using your bedroom only for sleeping and sexual activity. Avoid reading, watching TV, eating or using your phone in bed.

Just like your brain learned to associate your toilet with certain physical activities, it can learn that your bed is the place for sleeping, and begin to slow down when you pull up the covers.

Using the bedroom for only sleeping and sex is a part of healthy sleep hygiene.

Most people who experience sporadic insomnia or trouble sleeping can solve their problems by changing their sleep hygiene. Those who have persistent trouble sleeping or sleeplessness that affects their ability to function during the day, a provider who specializes in sleep medicine can help diagnose and treat the cause.

Last Updated: April 29, 2020

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About Author: Laura Nightengale

Laura Nightengale was a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and worked as a reporter at a daily newspaper for five years before joining OSF HealthCare. 

When she’s not working, Laura loves to travel, read, and spend time with her family, including her sweet and ornery dog.

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Categories: Brain & Spine