Did you know that 1 in 4 American couples sleep in separate beds?! In November 2012, Bottom Line Health published an interview with Dr. Jeffry Larson, a RELATE Institute Board Member, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist of more than 25 years, and a professor at Brigham Young University, about his advice for couples who struggle with differing sleep habits.
Here are some common complications of married partners’ sleep habits and how to cope with them:
One partner likes the room dark, while the other prefers light.
Sleep experts say dark rooms help stimulate the body’s natural sleep hormone melatonin, which will lead to more restful sleep. If one of you absolutely must have some light, try a dark room with a nightlight on your side of the bed.
One partner sleeps cold, while the other needs warmth.
A cooler room is more conducive to sleep as it complements the body’s natural temperature drop that happens when you sleep. Sleep experts suggest anywhere from 60 to 68 degrees fahrenheit for a sleep temperature. If one partner needs more warmth, use separate blankets so as not to disturb each other when adjusting during the night.
Partners who don’t go to bed at the same time often suffer marital strife and actually lose sleep. Everyone has a unique circadian rhythm (the body’s natural clock that regulates sleep and wakefulness) due to genetics, but these rhythms can change according to sunlight, time zone changes, and work schedules. Avoid blaming each other for having different body clocks. Have a conversation about what each partner needs at bedtime. If the night owl needs to lay in bed and cuddle with the early sleeper and then go on with his night once she’s asleep, that might just be what needs to happen.
One partner likes to watch TV before bed, while the other wants peace and quiet.
Looking at an illuminated screen before bedtime can interfere with sleep, but if one partner really wants their screen time, they should do it in a different room.
One partner snores loudly.
Loud snoring every night can sometimes be an indication of an underlying medical condition, in which case an ear, nose, and throat doctor visit would be in order. Using a white-noise machine can sometimes help cancel out the sound of the snoring and help the other partner get to sleep.
And here are a few last helpful tips for getting the most out of your night’s sleep…
- The bed is for two things only–sleep and sex. Avoid working or doing other things in your bed.
- No caffeine or alcohol 4-6 hours before bed.
- Don’t stress about bouts of insomnia. Everyone gets insomnia from time to time. The more stressed you are about not sleeping, the more likely you are to lose sleep.
- Get more exercise throughout the day.
- Set a regular bedtime and stick to it!