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The secret to sleeping soundly with your sweetie

Last Modified: February 12, 2019

Family Medicine

Between snoring and annoying bedtime rituals, sharing a bed with your partner can get a little tricky. Since love is in the air this month, we invited Aaron Roberts, MD, PPG – Sleep Medicine, with insights from his wife, Rachel, a local mental health therapist, to offer advice for achieving a peaceful, restful environment where you and your spouse can both recharge.

So, you like to fall asleep with the TV on while your partner prefers it completely quiet. Your partner likes to turn the thermostat way down before bed, while you crave a warm and toasty temp. He snores like a freight train and you’re quiet as a mouse. You have been told that you toss and turn all night and disrupt your partner’s slumber. She steals the covers. As a sleep medicine professional, I hear it all. With the variety of issues couples face, it’s no wonder so many partners end up sleeping apart. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation completed a survey in 2015 that revealed nearly one in four couples sleep in different beds and 10 percent sleep in separate rooms.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it may be surprising to hear people would rather sleep in separate beds than deal with their partner’s problems, especially when there are a lot of benefits to sleeping together. The following are suggestions on how to address some of these frustrations and restore peace in the bedroom.

Cost effective tactics

First, let’s discuss some of the changes that won’t break the bank account. The encouraging news is that you may already have access to some of these items in your home.

  • An eye cover can help block out the bright light or flickers from the show your partner is watching on television.
  • If you are the one still awake reading while your partner is trying to sleep, consider using a small book light or adjusting your electronic device to night mode.
  • If loud snoring or the sound of television is what keeps you awake, consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones.
  • If your partner tosses and turns or steals your covers during the night, consider using separate blankets.
  • If you try some of the options above and don’t see improvement, different bedtimes might be worth trying. If there is a night owl within the relationship, or if one is a light sleeper, staggering bedtimes can allow the light sleeper to get in to a deeper sleep before their snoring partner comes to bed.
Temperature control

So, what about couples who like different room temperatures? A simple solution is to keep the room a bit chillier and have an extra blanket on the side of the bed next to the one who likes it warmer. Couples can always compromise on a temperature in the middle of both partners’ preferences. The one who likes it cooler can use fewer covers or wear lighter pajamas while the other can wear heavier pajamas or even use a heated blanket if desired. Keep in mind that the optimum temperature is between 68 and 72°.

Making an investment

Some solutions do require a financial investment.

  • Buying a bigger bed can provide additional space for both partners, so they can move about more freely. This will minimize the likelihood of bumping into each other or feeling the other person if he or she tosses and turns all night.
  • Purchasing a new mattress and one that is designed to minimize the movements of the other may also be beneficial. If you cannot agree on a desired firmness, consider buying two twin beds and placing them together.
  • If a new mattress isn’t in the budget, consider buying a new mattress pad.
  • Other items that can be purchased to drown out loud noises (i.e., snoring) include a sound machine or a high-powered fan that is kept running throughout the night.
The blame game

Sleep issues may not always be the easiest topic to address and work through with your partner, for many reasons. It can be frustrating trying to deal with conflict while tired from a lack of sleep. One partner may feel the annoyance of being robbed of their sleep while the other may feel personally attacked. It is important for both parties to work on communicating their sleep needs in an open manner more consistently to keep tempers from flaring and resentments from building up.

Communicate in a way that focuses less on blaming/attacking and try focusing more on solutions. This will restore a feeling of hope and having this positive mindset is beneficial to working through any problem, not just sleep issues. Keep in mind that compromise is key. Acknowledging this from the beginning will be a huge help. When you are willing to give a little, your partner might be more receptive to giving on their end.

For the sake of your health, if your partner consistently complains of your loud snoring, don’t immediately dismiss it. This could be a sign of a more dangerous, but treatable sleep disorder. Yes, it may be a sign that you need continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), but it could also be a problem addressed with something as simple as a decongestant. Try some of the recommendations listed above and consult your doctor if you think there is an underlying sleep disorder. Afterall, the only thing better than a restful night’s sleep is when you get to share it with a loved one by your side.

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