He snores. She kicks. He likes temps cold. She likes them cozy. They’re a match made in Heaven during the day, but when bedtime comes and sleep is needed, they are archenemies. Sound familiar? If you and your sweetie seem to be sleep-incompatible, some slight alterations to your typical habits could be a big help. Try these 7 sleep tips to save (and improve!) your relationship.
#1 Compromise, compromise, compromise.
Sit down with your significant other and discuss your sleep preferences in order to identify where you need to give and take. For example, if you’re a cuddler, but your partner likes space, agree to a specified amount of time for cuddling before parting ways so each person gets what they need before drifting off to dreamland. If you like the thermostat set at 68, but your partner prefers 72, set it at 70. If you’re a night owl and your partner’s an early bird, respect each other's internal clocks by committing to a quiet, calm environment. Do whatever’s necessary to avoid disrupting the other person’s sleep. Night owls should use headphones to listen to music or watch TV and early birds should only be allowed to hit snooze once.
#2 If sleep eludes you, slip out.
When we can’t sleep, we tend to toss and turn and squiggle and squirm, which can be very frustrating to your partner. “If you’re in bed for 15 or 20 minutes and not [sleeping or having sex], you should get out of bed and even leave the bedroom,” says Ilene Rosen, M.D., program director for the University of Pennsylvania Sleep Fellowship, who serves on the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It’s standard advice for someone suffering from insomnia because it releases you from the stress and anxiety of not being able to sleep (which only makes it harder to sleep). Plus, it benefits you both. “It will help the person having insomnia to not be frustrated and allow for the bed partner who may already be sleeping to continue sleeping.”
#3 Create a code.
Avoid middle-of-the-night animosity and confusion with a mutually agreed upon code for taking action. If he snores, a light tap could let him know that he needs to roll onto his side. If she steals the covers, a small tug could let her know that she needs to loosen her grip. Using subtle signals helps address the problems without fully rousing both people out of slumber.
#4 Invest in a bigger bed.
More mattress real estate can be a real sleep savior. It allows you to sprawl without nudging your partner ever-closer to the edge. It keeps you at a safe distance from kickers and squigglers. And, if you like it cool and your partner likes it hot, you can easily avoid the borders of body heat.
#5 Use separate bedding.
Cover your mattress with one fitted sheet, but build the nest up from there using the bedding each person prefers. Not only does this allow customizing for temperature and touch preferences, it also ensures that no one will wake during the middle of the night, frozen and trying to find comfort under a sliver of sheet. Also, it acts similar to a sleeping bag, keeping restless legs and twitchy bodies from bothering one another.
#6 Don’t let a sleep disorder destroy things.
According to the American Sleep Association, about 60 million adults in the US suffer from a sleep disorder. And the US Centers for Disease Control reports that 48% of adults snore. Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, if you’re having problems sleeping, talk to your health care provider. There’s no need to rob both you and your partner of the sleep you need to be healthy and happy. With proper treatment, the issues can be alleviated and restful nights can be restored.
#7 Try separate beds.
To many, sleeping in separate beds says your relationship is on the rocks, but that’s not always true. And there’s no shame in admitting you’re incompatible sleepers. A survey from the National Sleep Foundation found that about one in four married couples sleep in separate beds, and it can actually improve your relationship.
If you’re struggling to sleep with your partner night after night, negative emotions are bound to emerge. “Blaming or holding someone accountable for something that is out of their control can cause serious conflict in a relationship and result in anger, resentment and general dissatisfaction,” says Dr. Joseph Cilona, a Manhattan-based psychologist in an interview with NBC News. And the actual lack of sleep compounds problems even more. “The resultant negative impact of one or both partners being consistently sleep-deprived can be devastating for the relationship, as well as to physical health, work success and in other life areas,” Cilona says.
At the end of the day (literally), there is no 'one size fits all' solution. And yours might change over time. The most important things are to do what’s right for you to feel close and intimate with your partner, and to ensure you’re both getting decent sleep.
Do you have any sleep tips for sharing a bed? Let us know in the comments below. Be a Good Sleep Samaritan and help others sleep better, too!
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