Okay. Give me your thoughts on why this is true: Taking a nap on the couch is so much better than taking a nap on your bed.  

How many of you know what I’m talking about? It is so much easier to fall asleep when you crash on your couch with your jeans and shoes on and all, sinking into the cracks of the cushions, trying to cover up with the throw blanket that’s too small – you know, arranging it all diagonally on yourself – rather than getting all comfy and climbing into bed. As soon as I lay down on the couch, I become nearly comatose. The more uncomfortable I am, the deeper I sleep. And if golf is on the TV, volume down low, forget it, I’m out for hours. But if I nap on my bed and try to get all comfortable, I just lay there awake forever. What is this phenomenon all about?

The Punk Brain Theory

Maybe it’s like that thing inside of us that wants to break rules. It’s like our brain is going “Oh, I see, you’re trying to take a light nap, nothing serious, you’re not even taking your shoes off. Well guess what? I’m breakin the rules. You are going out!” Or in the other case, when we try to get comfy, “Oh, you think you can trick me into sleeping? Ha! Fat chance, sucker.” I’m not completely satisfied with this theory because I don’t know why our brain would be so opposed to us trying to give it some rest. Maybe another theory is better.

The Frightened Body Theory

Maybe our bodies sense that we are threatened because of our lack of comfort. Therefore, it goes into emergency mode to preserve us and shuts down to give us rest. It’s like it’s thinking, “Oh no, what in the world is going on? Why am I so uncomfortable? I must rest in case this discomfort is the beginning of some terrible circumstances in which I won’t be able to rest later!” This theory is also not very satisfactory to me.

The Lonely Couch Theory

The poor couch. It’s definitely relegated to lesser-than status when it comes to affection from humans. The only contact the couch has with us is our bottoms sitting on it. Perhaps when we lay down on it the couch feels loved and begins to emit magic sleepy rays to keep us from leaving. It just wants some attention! Is that too much to ask? I am leaning towards this theory.

The Emergency Konk-out Theory

You lay down on the couch. It is comfortable at first, because you are so sleepy. 30 seconds later, you start to feel a little uncomfortable. You kind of want to take your shoes off. You kind of wish you weren’t wearing jeans. The couch feels lumpy. You wish you had a big blanket. But you are caught in the grips of the couch – unable to move. You are beginning to slip away. You cannot get up to make the necessary changes even though you know so many things would be better if you did. Your brain is in turmoil. It wants to get up, and it does not want to get up. So, in order to put an end to the tension, it calls for an emergency shut-down. “Alright, all hands on deck. We’re in a tight spot here. The pressure is too much to handle – everyone abandon post! Surrender!” And poof! You konk-out. This theory is pretty good too.

Share Your Own Theory… 🙂


  1. Well, I’m not much of a nap taker, so there’s only one couch that has ever done such things to me.

    The running theory (which was particular to that couch) was that someone had cast some kind of sleep spell over it. I think that couch is still around even, but with some throw covers (it was an ugly, beat-up couch).

  2. I think that it’s possible the body is simply trying to maintain a responsible sleeping schedule. Hence, when one tries to take a nap in bed, the body goes, “What? Huh? Wait… It’s not bedtime yet! What do we think we’re doing?” As a result, the body produces a sincere, but misguided, burst of energy — just enough to keep one awake.

    Therefore, one must outsmart the body. Laying down on the couch, the body deludes itself by thinking, “Oh, I’m not going to sleep. I’m just going to ‘rest my eyelids’ for a minute and that’s a totally different… diff… Zzzzzzz….”

  3. Lately, I don’t seem to have trouble falling asleep in bed OR on the couch. But the couch has a couple advantages.
    1- light background noise(at least at my house). I don’t know why that makes it easier for me to doze off, but it does. Sometimes sudden silence wakes me up.
    2- like you already mentioned, most of the time there’s only one semi-comfortable position in existence if you’re going to stretch out on a couch, and once you find it you don’t really want to move. In bed there are many comfy positions, and I toss and turn trying to pick one that I like, and manage to wake myself up doing it.

    I really shouldn’t be talking about naps right now…*yawn*

  4. jennerith

    Try this: make it a couch that’s a little too small for your height.
    I just got a second couch that’s a two cushion love seat. Instead of laying down on my 7′ long red couch, I sat down “for a second” on the 4′ long green sofa. I tried to get my feet smooshed between the cushions and was so uncomfortable, because the couch is 4′ and I am 5’8″. That means 1’8″ of me was hanging off the end, like a giantess that is using tiny furniture. It was so awkward, but the nap was awesome.

  5. Matt 26:7 “a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.” Jesus was reclining in a chair that resembled a couch (probably not as comfy as yours) while this famous act was being played out.

    Jesus loved the couch too!

  6. benjaminwood

    Here are my thoughts on why a couch is better for a nap than a bed…

    A nap is for a short period of time, 30 min to an hour tops, any longer and that is not a nap. That is called sleeping, sleeping takes place in a bed! A nap can take place in any random comfortable place i.e. couch, lay-z-boy, street bench, gutter, strangers lap, blue chair in prayer room and various other places.

    The reason why you feel better taking a nap in these places is due to that fact that you just need a quick time of refreshing. You don’t need a r.e.m. cycle just a quick time of rest.

    A bed is for sleeping therefore when the body lays flat in a bed in the middle of the day it fights itself because it is still daylight out and not dark. To combat this one might try using a mask (Richard Nixon is preferred or any other president… just not Clinton) or maybe you would like to paint your windows black. Really just make it all dark around you and you can fool your body into thinking that it is night.

    Still my favorite place to take a nap is on the couch even though the gutter is fun, just make sure you are not taking your neighborhood bums favorite spot, you might wake up with a shank on your throat and a strange man over you.

    Words to the wise!

  7. wow..

    um, I think I’m with Amanda. Sounds like a good theory to me.
    I must say that usually with me, it’s the other way around.

    I would love to take a nap on a couch for just once in my life! Never works, I get all frustrated because it seems to work with everyone and I don’t wanna take a nap in my bed in the middle of the day. So doing it on the couch just looks better.
    But…it never ever works.

    somehow I did fall asleep in the prayerroom once 😛

  8. Tracie Loux

    Not that most of you single folk care, but babies take better naps on couches as well… tuck that away for future reference. For whatever reason, Elia (one month old) will sleep ‘like a baby’, oh duh, she is a baby, on the couch. She takes much better day time naps on the couch than she does in her bed. Maybe her bed says, “Time to sleep” and that’s just way to much pressure. But maybe she’s just afraid that she’ll miss out on something, cause the minute a plop her in her bed, she wakes up.
    Comfy on the couch, with all the noises of siblings doing home school, dishwasher running, daddy coming home for lunch, the little love sleeps soundly. Nice for us, cause she’s so pretty and she makes a nice centerpiece to our day!

  9. Amanda’s “fake out the body” theory seems to be the most reasonable. That works in so many situations, actually. You would be surprised what I have to say to my body to convince it to dance, for example.

  10. Idhrendur – I’m telling you, the Lonely Couch Theory makes a lot of sense… 🙂

    Amanda – Great Theory. I think you hit it.

    Jess – You are absolutely right. That background noise is crucial. Like I said, Golf on TV is perfect. The hushed tone of the commentator, the golf clap, the soft tap of club against golf ball…drool….
    Also, I like your point of too many options for comfort in the bed. It’s like trying to figure out what to eat at the cheesecake factory. Maybe this is why Chipotle is so good.

    Jen – I know what you mean – it works! Weird, but true. Equally as frustrating and sleep-inducing is trying to sleep laying down in the back seat of a car on a road trip.

    ChriS – Yay! Maybe this should be one of the first questions I ask Him.

    Ben – thanks for your words of wisdom. What’s with the presidents? What am I missing?

    Ruth – there’s nothing better than a little cat nap in the PR! Unless you drool, twitch or talk in your sleep.

    Tracie – very interesting. I think you’re on to something with the whole “thinking we’ll miss something.” I hate that feeling when I wake up from a late afternoon nap and the sun is starting to set but it’s still kind of light out and you feel like you’re missing out on something somewhere. I don’t feel that when it’s on the couch though. I didn’t really retreat or remove myself from the goings-on if I stayed in the living room.

    Dave – I agree with Amanda’s theory too.
    The thought of you talking your body into dancing is highly entertaining. I will never forget your dance moves when you hijacked that stage in downtown Atlanta in ’04. Your singing was unforgetable too. I can’t say it was bad though, if the size of the crowd you drew was any indication of the excellence of your performance.

  11. Robin

    I love Amanda’s theory and I am in whole-hearted agreement with the emergency konk-out theory!!

    Napping on the couch is a treat and so I think the body knows it is being spoiled. The body expects to sleep at night in the bed, and it knows it never gets to sleep as long as it wants to. So it naps on the couch with no urgent plans to get up.

    Also, there is a distinct difference between the feelings you get when you wak up from your nap. On the couch, you go, “Ahh. That was nice.” On the bed, you go, “Oh no. What time is it? I shouldn’t be sleeping. It’s the middle of the day!”

    I think there is truth in what your body is used to. When I try to nap on my bed, I sleep hard. When I nap on the couch, I sleep lighter.

  12. jennerith

    For the record, you CAN take long naps. They are called Olympic naps, and I used to master them in college. Also there is the ‘homework is way too hard right now” nap, the ‘angry nap’ and my personal favorite the ‘I just took a shower and did my hair but now I want to sleep” nap.
    Olympic naps are any nap longer than 2 hours. THey rock. I used to go to class in the morning, go to the gym, then sleep from 12-4ish, get up, do some homework and go to dinner.
    *weeps at the beauty that was university life*

  13. My brain associates my bed with the following dialogue:

    Cell phone alarm: BEEP BEEP BEEP
    Me: *hits snooze alarm without even waking up*
    Cell, ten minutes later: BEEP BEEP BEEP
    Me: “zzzzzsnerk ugggh whuh? Whuz going on … noise … make it stop … Crapola! I’m going to be late to work again!!”

    The couch has much better connotations. It implies that I’m done with work and don’t have anywhere to be for the next hour. Although whenever I stay up too late, it’s usually while I’m sitting on the couch. Hmm…

  14. benjaminwood

    Note: there is no signifigance between presidents, i just think those masks are funny. that is all!

    Missing? What are you missing? The fact that sleeping in a gutter is fun.

  15. emilymea

    Sleeping on the couch is usually not an option for me because Mom usually has it claimed as her sleeping spot during the day. (Both my mom and I work nights and sleep during the day.) For me my question is why I sleep so much harder when I crash on my bed with my work uniform on. If I go to sleep in my night clothes on I sleep real light and wake up well before my alarm, but if I crash in my work uniform I can sleep FIFTEEN HOURS and only wake up once or twice. (If you can’t tell I have done this very thing recently.)

  16. Robin, so true about the different feelings you get…

    Jen – spot on! I love the “just took a shower and now I want to take a nap” nap. Don’t forget the “post-burrito nap” or the “I just made a pot of coffee and now I want to nap” nap.

    Ducky – thanks for the glimpse inside your brain! 🙂

    Ben – Oh, I get it. Those funny president masks. I thought you were talking about those sleep masks, so the president thing threw me.

    Emily – I know! It’s the “un-comfort” factor. It’s crazy.

  17. standonthewall

    I know nothing about this because I cannot take naps regardless of me being on the couch or in my bed. I’m weird like that.

  18. adamhanly

    the beach is better than both.

    but i’d have to say, i did the couch thing the other day, first nap in some time…. and i slept like a baby.

  19. Oh yes, the beach. You just have to surrender to the sand or else it will bug you. Also not a good idea if you fall asleep and get burned. Ouch! But other than that…heavenly.

  20. benjaminwood

    I was talking about the sleep masks and then changed my mind to talk about the crazy President masks. I am strange like that! YAKOW! That was a judo chop.

  21. Duh – I know that was a judo chop. 🙂

  22. Golf is great to nap to, baseball as well, althought it isn’t quite as good as golf.

    My favorite naps are Sunday afternoon – I just got home from church and eating a whole mess of awesome Mexican food – naps. I think something about having to go to work Monday morning entered into the equation as well.

    Now if only I could find some really good Mexican food around here… any suggestions around here?

  23. Michaela – yes! Sunday afternoons are great for naps! As for good Mexican food…it depends where you’re from. If you are from somewhere that bosts authentic Mexican food, you probably won’t find much to tickle your fancy here in KC. But, there are some places that I enjoy, and you may like them too – Chelly’s on 85th St. in Waldo, Manny’s on Southwest off 71N, and Mi Cocina on the Plaza are three of my favs.

  24. benjaminwood

    Dos Oros is the best

  25. Yes, Dos Oros is pretty good too. It would be in my top ten probably, for KC. The marquis up on the wall when you first walk in is hilarious. Let that be incentive for curious parties to check it out!

  26. kevin

    I don’t really have a general theory. However, for about two years in CA, by “bed” was an 8′ long couch. As I look back on those years, I don’t remember a time I ever had difficulty falling asleep. (Most likely because it was waaayyyy more comfortable than my previous bed!) Now everytime I recline on that wonderful couch (or others), my body seems to remember those delightfully restful nights. That couch instantly begins to make me sleepy. On the occosional nights when I am allowed only several hours of sleep, I head to the couch. My personal theory is that my body remebers those nights and reverts to the default mode of those years of sleeping well on couches. Because, three hours on that couch feels like 6!

  27. Ah – 8-foot long couches…I believe that’s the stuff heaven is made of…

  28. Couch. C… O…

    C… O… R.!?@*& …are you goint to the mall today, thats what Im asking!

    Mmm.. sleepy rays.

  29. Wrong Molly!

    Your what Heaven is made of!

  30. Steve – nice with the Billy Madison!!! That’s actually one of my favorite movie lines of all time.

    And shucks, go on… 🙂

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