Instinctively, we all know it: the couch is not the best place to sleep. It’s uncomfortable, most often set in a noisy, well-lit living room where members of the family come and go. Overall, the couch as a set-up is generally not catered to the best night’s sleep.
This being said, you may have still found yourself in a situation where you just had to sleep on the couch – be it during a visit at a friend’s house or a household dispute – and in these situations, you may have wondered: how bad can it really be? Can sleeping on the couch ever be a good thing? What is the best way to do it?
In that case, we at Sleepreporter.com are here to bring you all the answers that you need.
How to sleep on the couch?
Despite all these disadvantages, sometimes, you may just not have a choice and need to sleep on the couch. In such circumstances, here are some tips from Sleepreporter.com to make it slightly more bearable.
1. Make sure to turn off all screens and that your environment is as dark as it can be
This includes the TV, your phone, and your iPad. If you’re having trouble sleeping on your couch, you may choose to read a book instead.
Additionally, most humans like to sleep in a darker environment, so make sure you turn off all lights and ask your family members to refrain from turning them on if they, for instance, happen to come into the living room during the night to fetch a glass of water.
This may also mean you might have to turn off some appliances around you, such as the microwave in the open kitchen or a Wi-Fi router that may blink or buzz during the night. Especially if it’s only for a few nights, the rest of the family should be able to cope.
2. Try sleeping aids
If you find it truly difficult to get a good night’s sleep on the couch, you may want to try a sleeping aid. This may include something as simple as bedtime tea, taking some melatonin supplements or magnesium. If necessary, you may also consider taking a sleeping tablet.
While it is best not to use these on a truly regular basis as you may develop unhealthy sleeping habits, there is actually nothing wrong with trying to ease yourself into sleep artificially every once in a while, on those occasions where you’re really having trouble sleeping.
This may be the case if you’re crashing onto a friend’s couch for a few days and still want to enjoy your time with them during the day, without feeling completely jet lagged and bleary-eyed.
3. Consider buying a sofa-bed
If for whatever reason, sleeping on the couch becomes a recurring occurrence in your household, you may want to invest in a fold-out couch or convertible sofa-bed. While in the past, these were notoriously dingy and uncomfortable (sometimes, even more so than an actual couch), they have tremendously improved in recent years. Some even integrate storing areas for additional pillows and bedding, and most now carry a proper mattress.
When picking one, you should primarily look at the size and length of the couch (make sure it also fits well in your living room), as well as at the thickness of the mattress. Look into something that is about 5 inches (10-12cm) thick, which should be the perfect combination between practicality, lightness and a good night’s sleep.
4. Prioritize getting a good duvet and duvet cover
If you really have to sleep on the couch for a few nights, you will want to make sure that you, at least, have a good duvet, sheets, and pillows. First, this will make the couch feel cozier, and more comfortable. Second, because these are actually made of materials designed for sleep, they are more likely to appropriately absorb and help regulate your body heat. To that end, consider getting a larger duvet, which you could also use to insulate yourself from the couch’s fabric. That way, you will be better suited for a decent night’s sleep.
5. Make sure you stretch before you go to bed and after you wake up in the morning
Stretching is always important, but especially when you know you will have to remain in an uncomfortable position for a number of hours. It will improve your flexibility, posture, and prevent the stiffness that you typically experience after sleeping on the couch.
Overall, sleeping on the couch for a few nights won’t kill you. Sometimes, it may actually help with your sleeping patterns. This being said, if it becomes a regular occurrence in your life, you may have to take steps to ensure that you’re still getting the amount and quality of sleep that you need.
Is sleeping on a couch bad?
First of all, sleeping on the couch is actually not as bad as you think. Sometimes, even, the couch is the most comfortable place to sleep.
Ever found yourself stuck at home with a fever or a cold? If so, you may remember struggling to fall asleep flat in your bed, but feeling strangely comfortable on the couch. That is no coincidence.
As we all know, congested sinuses make it harder to breathe through your nose. This may induce a feeling of drowsiness and general discomfort when lying down, and further hinder your breathing patterns.
Additionally, when you have a cold, you may also be experiencing a cough, fever, or chills, which all adds up to be an incredible burden on your lungs and airways. More often than not, you’ll also be snoring in your sleep, which will be a disturbance to your partner.
As such, in times of illness, you may have found it easier to simply watch TV and dose off on the couch. This is actually normal and quite a good thing. On a couch, using the armrest and/or throw pillows to prop yourself up makes it easier for you to breathe in at times when you’re feeling congested.
Sitting up straighter actually helps the flow of oxygen in and out of your lungs. Think of the way singers traditionally prefer to stand when they have to belt – the more upright you are, the easier it is to breathe.
This being said, if you do decide to take advantage of your lovely, comfy couch when you’re ill, remember that being in the middle of the living room might not be ideal for the rest of your family.
First, their comings and goings might still disturb your sleep. Additionally, breathing the same air as them might mean running the risk of making them sick.
Lastly, if you’re generally suffering from trouble sleeping or insomnia, some sleep specialists recommend a change of scenery to help your brain “recalibrate as you drift off.” Ideally, this will mean sleeping in a spare bedroom or even on a different side of the bed. However, sometimes, the couch can help.
This being said, be aware of the fact that you may not want this to turn into another unhealthy sleeping habit. This is especially true if you only settle on the couch when dosing off in front of the TV or during afternoon naps. This may make it even harder, in the long run, to find sleep in your bed at night.
Can I always sleep on a couch?
Sleeping on the couch can be all right for short periods of time, but you probably should not make it a habit.This is mostly because couches are not designed to cater to our sleep. Although we may all tend to lie down on them from time to time, they’re actually primarily made for sitting, rather than sleeping.
This means that their robustness and the fabric that they are made of are not meant to support a person’s weight in a horizontal position. Furthermore, plenty of sources report that couch materials are not intended to absorb our body heat while we sleep, the way our mattresses and beddings do. As a result, you may very easily feel too hot or too cold while sleeping on your couch.
Secondly, obviously, your sleeping posture on the couch may not be the best. For instance, if you’re sleeping on a two-seater or a shorter couch, and traditionally prefer sleeping on your back, you may find it extremely difficult to stretch out.
Additionally, studies have found that most people actually prefer sleeping on their side, especially as they age. On a couch, this is also challenging as most sofas are narrower than your bed.
The backrest may get in the way of your legs (or leave them dangling off, which can cause numbness or tingling in the lower limbs), and the actual seat of the couch may be too hard for you to feel comfortable on your side. On a couch, there is little to no spine and/or neck support.
Overall, this all may prevent you from finding a good enough position that will allow you to get a decent night’s sleep. Certain sources even report that “if you make a habit of sleeping on the couch, it can start to cause long-term damage to your lumbar spine and neck.”
Often times, falling asleep on the couch also means that you’re dosing off with the television on, and we all know it: screens are bad for your sleep. Indeed, as reported by lifehack.org, “Recent research from Harvard and University of Toronto researchers found that light in the blue spectrum acts on our bodies by suppressing natural melatonin.
Since melatonin is the hormone that induces drowsiness, delaying its release means more time spent awake and greater difficulty getting sleepy.” As such, falling asleep with the TV on may be another cause of disturbed sleep. This is the same if you’re just lying on the couch and falling asleep while scrolling on your phone.