Sleep Care

Are You and Your Mate Compatible Sleeping Partners?

Sleep incompatibility plagues many marriages

Because falling in love happens so effortlessly and naturally, many couples are surprised to find that long after they have said “I Do,” falling asleep together is not as easy as they anticipated. In fact, sleep incompatibility between couples is a common complaint, especially among newlyweds.

The list of issues varies from couple to couple but can include everything from complaints about snoring and restlessness to hogging covers and being too hot. In the end, these issues can lead to a substantial loss of sleep for one or both spouses. A study by the Better Sleep Council found that 1 in 3 couples report that their partner’s sleep habits affect their own sleep. Likewise, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that if a spouse snores, the other spouse loses an average of 49 minutes of sleep each night. Over time this results in a very large sleep debt that affects mental, physical and emotional health. Additionally, lack of sleep puts you at risk for chronic illness, reduced immune function, cardiovascular disease and impaired mental capabilities.

Research also suggests that poor sleeping habits can impact marriage satisfaction. For instance, the NSF discovered that 50 percent of couples who were unhappy in their marriage, also said they were sleeping less today than they did five years ago. Meanwhile, one third of people with sleep issues say that those issues caused problems in their relationship. And lastly, one quarter of spouses admitted that their sexual relationship had been affected by sleep issues.

If you are among the millions of couples who struggle with sleep issues in your marriage, you may be wondering what you can do to get a good night’s rest and still maintain or improve closeness in your marriage. Most experts agree that there is still hope to maintain marital intimacy and still get the sleep your body needs. All you need is a little creativity, flexibility and compromise and sufficient sleep can be achieved.

Following is a list of ideas to get you started:

  • Create a dark, cool and quiet sleeping place and never watch television in the bedroom
  • Consider sleeping under different blankets if ideal sleeping temperatures are incompatible (i.e. one of you prefers to be toasty warm and the other prefers to be cooler); separate blankets also are an option if one partner is restless and/or a blanket hog
  • Purchase a soothing alarm clock if one of you has to rise substantially earlier than the other
  • Put twin mattresses on a king-size frame or use a pillow barrier to create separate sleeping spaces while maintaining the option of pillow talk; this keeps the restless partner from elbowing or kicking the other person
  • See a sleep specialist if one of you snores to determine the underlying cause; sleep apnea or another related sleep disorder could be at play and wreaking havoc on the relationship. The good news is that sleep disorders are usually treatable conditions.

Finally, if all else fails and one or both partners is still not getting enough rest, you may have to consider sleeping in separate rooms. While most couples cringe at this thought, this practice is not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, one in ten or 12 percent of married Americans sleep alone.

Moreover, one British study claims that separate beds may in fact be the secret to a happy marriage. Researchers claim that if you believe in your marriage, trust each other and communicate well about the lack of sleep in your lives, sleeping apart won’t hurt intimacy. In fact, they say asking the question “your room or mine” may even increase intimacy with your spouse – especially if you’re getting adequate rest by sleeping apart.

And finally, a survey by the National Association of Home Builders anticipates that more than 60 percent of

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custom homes will have dual master bedrooms by 2015. In fact, some builders say that more than a quarter of their new projects already do have dual master bedrooms.

So no matter what sleep issue plagues your new marriage, take heart. It is your marriage and you can set up sleeping arrangements that fit both your needs. The traditional set-up just might not work for you, but it doesn’t mean your marriage won’t work. As long as you talk and consider one another’s needs a solution that fits both your needs can be achieved.

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