Classical Conditioning: The Key to a Good Night’s Rest

By | July 8, 2019

Many people can’t seem to get a good night’s rest. The stereotype of tossing and turning all night seems to happen to a lot of people. Our bodies don’t have a simple off switch, after all. However, there are many ways people are combatting insomnia without resorting to sleeping pills. One way is classical conditioning psychology.

What is Classical Conditioning?

Classical conditioning is when you associated two things with each other, even when something else is missing its counterpart. The most famous example is Pavlov’s dog. This dog would salivate whenever food was nearby. When food was presented, they rang a bell every time. Then, a bell was rung without the food, and yet the dog still salivated. This is because the dog grew to learn to associate the bell with food.

When you’re trying to sleep, there are many things your mind needs to associate or disassociate with in order to get a good night’s sleep. Let’s look at a few of them.
The Bed and Association

Some people only use their bed for sleep or sex. Then, there are others who may use their bed like a chair, or for casual relaxation. This can be a problem. Eventually, your mind starts to associate your bed with being awake, making it harder to sleep whenever you’re trying to do so.

It doesn’t end there, either. Have you ever been unable to fall asleep, and have tried sleeping for literally hours in the bed? That is a mistake. Too much restlessness makes you associate the bed with insomnia. If you can’t fall asleep within a certain amount of time, it’s recommended that you get out of bed and do something else, returning to bed only when you feel tired, then repeating the process if you still can’t sleep.

Sleep Rituals

If you just stop what you’re doing and go to bed, you may be unable to fall asleep. Sleep hygiene not only prepares you for sleep, but it associates some activities with sleep as well. If you take a shower before bed, your body and mind may feel more tired after you shower, as it’s associating the shower with sleep. It’s important you incorporate a ritual. Tea with a book before bed. The shutting off of all electric devices. These little actions can make it easier for you to fall asleep. It’s an interesting psychology for many.

It doesn’t have to be complex, either. Stop drinking caffeine at a certain point, especially if you are sensitive. Unwind after a certain time with whatever relaxes you. Don’t look at your phone so much. This can help prepare you for a good night’s rest.

The Same Applies to Waking Up

Classical conditioning is good for getting energy, too. A cup of coffee is good and all, but the entire ritual of waking up can make you feel alert, too. The sun is associated with waking up, even if you’re a night owl. That’s why you should get outside if you need energy, and close the curtains if you want to sleep in.

Try it Out

If you’ve had trouble sleeping, take a look at your ritual. Even if you don’t consciously associate your bed with restlessness, your unconscious may do so. Try to adjust and see how much of a difference it can make for you.


Many people have trouble sleeping, and while the reasons can be more complex, association is the first step in the fight against restlessness. Try classical conditioning and see what it does for you. Chances are, you can go to bed much easier.

This is a featured post by site sponsor Better Help.

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