Navigating the Sofa-to-bed transition with WOMBATT Insights

We look into the latest articles on sleep and fatigue and to interprete them for our audience and WOMBATT-VOZ users, in order to make sure that you can benefit from the latest sleep research for your personal fatigue management. We recently came across an interesting article which dives into why it is that we can so easily sleep on the sofa, but when it’s time to actually go to bed we’re wide awake. 

The Sofa Dilemma

Most of us know exactly how this feels, and more importantly how frustrating it is. It’s been a long day, you sit down on your comfy sofa with the tv on and before you know it you’ve dozed off. 

At WOMBATT we understand the science behind this. It’s not just the cosiness of your sofa that puts you to sleep but it’s actually a combination of factors such as sleep pressure, circadian rhythm and your environment. 

Unveiling sleep pressure

Sleep pressure is something you may not have heard of before, but it is exactly what it sounds like and it’s generated by our bodies. As the day progresses, sleep pressure builds up and is what drives us to go to sleep at the end of the day. Along with this pressure, your body clock is also sending signals that it’s time to go to sleep, for instance if it is dark outside your body is already preparing to go to sleep. 

So all in all this is exactly what we need to go to sleep at the end of the day, but the sofa, instead of progressing into the normal nightly sleep cycle, disrupts this process because the cycle was meant to initiate after going to bed and not before. Then when you wake up after your nap on the sofa depending on the length of your nap, your body has been given the chance to build up energy and keep you awake. It’s like taking a power nap, setting you up for a few hours of alertness again.

The critical role of nap timing

Depending on the length of your nap on the sofa it can play a role in how easily you will fall asleep again afterwards. If the nap was only 5 minutes, then the sleep pressure behind it has not been able to reduce enough for it to make a difference to your desire to fall asleep. However if your nap was about 20-30 minutes the length of a power nap, well then you have regained quite some alertness, making sleep difficult shortly after such a nap. If your nap on the sofa was disrupted in the middle of one your body’s 90 minute sleep cycles, you may find it easier to go back to sleep once you are actually in bed because when you woke up from your nap, you were in the deep sleep stage and your body had not completed with that particular 90 minutes sleep cycle.

Transitioning matters

The timing of your nap plays a critical role, however, transitioning from the sofa to the bed, especially with bright lights can awaken the brain, making subsequent sleep challenging.

Another factor that may affect your ability to sleep in bed is sleep stress – worry and anxiety to fall asleep on time is what makes sleeping on the sofa easier than in bed. On the sofa we are not worried yet about “I only have 5 hours until my alarm goes off, I need to sleep now”. Many of us put this pressure on ourselves when we enter our beds and prepare for our nightly rest. Cortisol is the hormone that wakes us up early in the morning and provides us with alertness, however Cortisol is also the hormone that is generated by stress. So, stressing in bed will cause your brain to associate bed with alertness rather than sleepiness, as it does on the sofa. 

WOMBATT’s Advice for Superior Sleep

So now we know why we aren’t falling asleep in bed but we are on the sofa, let’s explore how to make the bed more inviting. 

Consider creating a sleep-conducive environment – dark, quiet, and comfortable. Create a bedtime routine which helps prepares your brain to send the sleepiness signals at the time you need it, which is in bed. Make sure your routine is consistent, train your brain. And as tempting as it is, resist the urge to scroll through your phone in bed; the blue light and stimulating content can disrupt your sleep. 

In essence, at WOMBATT, we advise you to create a good sleep routine to enhance your sleep. By prioritizing a restful environment and mindful pre-sleep habits, you’ll maximize the benefits of a good night’s sleep in your own bed. 


📖 “Madeline Sprajcer, Lecturer in Psychology, CQUniversity Australia and Sally Ferguson, Director, Appleton Institute, CQUniversity Australia – Why do I fall asleep on the sofa but am wide awake when I get to bed?

“WOMBATT Training programme: Industrial expertise from our training programme designed for effective fatigue management and safety strategies.” 


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