Maladaptive Daydreaming in Bed

One interesting thing about maladaptive daydreaming - that I've spoken about a number of different times - is that while it consumes a great deal of your life, it is something we spend little time thinking about introspectively.

For whatever reason - perhaps because we're too scared or embarrassed - we don't stop to think about why this is occurring, when it seems to occur, or what it could be attempting (rationally) to stop you from otherwise thinking about.

After overcoming my own maladaptive daydreams - that consumed a number of years of my life - I began to reflect on how it all began.

How Your Bed Can Trigger Maladaptive Daydreams

What I realized is that when I was laying in bed - when I wasn't overly tired and couldn't fall asleep right away - I began to construct my own maladaptive daydreams. At the time, I'm sure I thought this was fine. After all, we spend a good deal of time while we are asleep in abstract dreams, so what's the harm in having abstract daydreams prior to going to bed?

The issue becomes that while daydreaming prior to falling asleep isn't likely much of an issue - unless it keeps you from falling asleep! - there can be a jump. And this jump is where we go from what one would classify as daydreaming to maladaptive daydreaming.

This jump refers to when the daydreams you have before bed - that often follow a certain script - begin to permeate your life when you aren't in bed. You begin to play out the same script, with the same actors, with the same storyline while you are awake and trying to do things that are actually productive. 

While I haven't spoken much about the connection between maladaptive daydreaming and when you're trying to fall asleep, I think for many people there is a very real connection.

So What Can Be Done About It?

One solution - if you find yourself heavily engaged in your maladaptive daydreams prior to bed - is simply to try to be so tired when you go to bed that you fall asleep right away. 

This way you short circuit any ability to engage in maladaptive daydreams and hopefully can begin to break the cycle.

Another thing you can do is to try deep breathing exercises while in bed. Just take deep breaths in and out and try to clear your head, just like you would do in basic meditation practice. Try to allow your mind to be as blank of a slate as possible. This has a dual benefit of both helping you fall asleep faster (which is great in and of itself!) and preventing maladaptive daydreams from creeping in.

A great way to prevent maladaptive daydreams that is easy to do is just to notice when they occur and try to clear your mind. Don't try to think about other things, just try not to think about anything. While this can be hard to do during the course of the day, it is much easier to do while you are in bed.

Sleep experts agree that you should view your bed as a place for sleep, not a place for relaxation. This is because when you go to bed you want your brain to associate that purely with sleeping. 

My little pet theory - that I haven't written much about - is that with maladaptive daydreamers we can have the tendency to associate certain "triggers" or "cues" with maladaptive daydreaming and your bed is a prime example.

Many maladaptive daydreamers - likely without even realizing it - have trained their brain to begin revving their maladaptive daydreams into high gear when they land in bed. I've heard from many folks that they'll daydream for hours prior to eventually falling asleep and often wake up quite tired because they haven't gotten a full night of sleep. 

So one immediate action you can take today is trying to dissociate your bed from your maladaptive daydreams. Treat your bed as purely a place to sleep. Try to go to bed as tired as you can, so you'll fall asleep quickly, and if you can't fall asleep engage in deep breathing exercises to try to clear your mind and prevent maladaptive daydreams from seeping in.

By the time we go to bed, we have limited willpower. While many of the techniques from stopping maladaptive daydreaming that I talk about are best used when you're going about your day, everyone can get a bit less vigilant when the night rolls around and you're in bed.

As I've also said many times, because maladaptive daydreams take up so much of your waking life, when you end up stopping them (or severely curtailing them) that opens up a lot of free time. It can often be hard to know what to do with all of this "extra" time. Try to enjoy having a clear mind, in which no thoughts are present, and then as you expand your hobbies and interests over time they can begin to fill the void caused by stopping your maladaptive daydreams.

What you absolutely don't want to have happen is that you prevent yourself from daydreaming during the day, but when you get into bed they reappear. You want to make a quite clean cut from maladaptive daydreaming - even though it can take a few weeks or month to fully do so - but you don't want to spend years half-in and half-out of your maladaptive daydreams. That's how you end up back where you started.

If you're struggling with having MD while in bed, try these few techniques (although with the others I've talked about here). Remember, as always, not to be too hard on yourself. As I mentioned above, our will power is less when we're tired at the end of the time so forgive yourself when you catch yourself engaged in maladaptive daydreams, but then try to stop them before they go on too long. If you aren't sure if your daydreams prior to bed are truly maladaptive in nature, try taking the maladaptive daydreaming test.

As always, I wish you the very best of luck in your journey.

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