Scientific research on sleep is typically conducted with research participants who are sleeping alone, but in real life most people share beds with significant others, children, and even pets. According to an international survey, 70% of Americans do not sleep alone, and the numbers were similar for Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
Problems with Partners
Sharing a bed with a partner is not always easy, especially when you have different sleep preferences and needs. Oftentimes, partners can disturb each other’s sleep, and this is not only limited to disruptive snoring, restless insomnia, or reading with a light on into the night.
Sleep troubles associated with your partner can be a struggle, and in some cases may lead to longer-term issues. Finding a solution to what may seem like small bothers can prevent longer-term issues from developing. Keep reading for common problems — and solutions!
What to Do When a Partner is Interrupting Your Sleep
Maybe you’re dealing with several of these issues, or maybe you’re dealing with other issues not listed here. Whatever the case, here are some common scenarios and solutions to consider:
Problem: You have a partner who moves around so much that you can’t fall asleep or you wake up throughout the night.
Solution: How big is your bed? Do you or your partner toss and turn or have restless legs? This may be a sign that you need a new and possibly bigger mattress. Each sleeper may not have enough space to reach a comfortable position and must shift constantly to find one. Queen size or larger will generally give you enough room to sleep soundly together. Another aspect to consider is the mattress feeling too soft or too firm. Some compromise may need to happen, or you can invest in a mattress with different settings for each side of the bed. Similarly, mattresses that limit motion transfer can help if sleeping with a partner who moves a lot.
Problem: You have a partner who snores or who has sleep apnea.
Solution: If your partner snores, you can explore various solutions in our SleepScore Store such as sleep aid devices and snoring mouthguards. Did you know that snoring sometimes needs to be taken more seriously than just annoying sounds? Some chronic snorers have sleep apnea, a common but potentially very dangerous sleep disorder that can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and even heart failure. Only medical experts can diagnose sleep apnea; if you think your partner might have sleep apnea, it’s worth their time to see a doctor. Possible signs include snoring or gasping, pauses in breathing, or shallow breaths while sleeping.
Problem: You and your partner have different personal preferences in types of bedding or mattress firmness.
Solution: Talk to each other about mattress firmness preferences and then consult a mattress expert to find a mattress that suites you both. It could be a firmness that you both agree on or it could be an adjustable one.
Problem: You can’t sleep because your partner has a light on or is using electronics while you’re in bed.
Solution: If possible, ask your partner to avoid using light in the bedroom, including any electronics that emit light or sound. Another solution is to find a sleep mask that feels comfortable for you to sleep in. There are many different styles, available in many different types of fabrics.
Problem: You have a hard time staying on the same sleep schedule.
Solution: There is no one size fits all solution here; it generally requires communication and compromise. Talk to one another and come to an agreement about what can be done to avoid disturbing the sleeping partner. Using a white noise machine to help drown out noise, a sleep mask to block lights, and getting ready for bed in a separate room before heading to bed are some common solutions to help reduce possible distractions. When a partner climbs into bed after you’ve been snoozing for a while, it can interrupt whatever sleep phase you’re in and cause tiredness the next day.
Problem: You and your partner disagree what room temperature or bed temperature feels most comfortable.
Solution: Some people want to feel nice and cool while in bed, whereas some people want to feel warm and cozy. These personal preferences can vary and can change over time as we age. Splitting the blankets on the bed and using lighter or heavier blankets, electric blankets, cooling pillows, or specialty mattresses can help.
Problem: You and your partner don’t feel the same way about wanting to snuggle together vs. wanting some personal space during the night.
Solution: A possible compromise could be to plan time to cuddle before bed; this can help you relax before sleep without compromising comfort while you’re actively trying to sleep.
Everyone’s relationship is different, so communicate with your partner to find the right solutions for your situation. Whether it’s saving up for a new mattress, or simply having an honest talk about each other’s sleep habits, you can make positive changes to get more peace at night. For some couples, sleeping separately for either short or even longer terms could be the best solution. There’s no shame in making decisions to get the sleep you need!