Living with a partner inevitably means learning how to share, whether it’s the TV, the shower, the car, or the bed. It’s the latter in particular that can cause distress among couples. While it’s perfectly acceptable to opt for separate beds, many consider this a sure sign that a relationship is in some sort of trouble. It’s accepted wisdom now that if you’re an item, you share a bed to show affection. However, if one partner should snore, kick in their sleep, or toss and turn often, then sleeping with them may prove to be its own challenge.
Dealing with the issue is important. Not only does it better preserve one’s chances for a good night’s sleep, but it can also be highly beneficial to the relationship.
On the Matter of Snoring
One of the biggest complaints partners have about each other is snoring. Around 37 million Americans snore, with the most likely culprits being older men. This is a perfectly natural and unconscious response to a restricted airway while sleeping — the sleeper opens their mouth slightly to breathe in through the mouth, the constricted esophagus causing the obnoxious snoring noise. Sleeping with a partner who snores can no doubt lead to stress, but it’s important to approach the matter sensibly and sensitively (I am the one who snores.)
One way to deal with snoring is to make sure that the offending party is in a good sleeping position. Snoring typically occurs when laying on the back, so rolling to one side is a good way to reduce it by giving the airways more space. If snoring still occurs, another painless way to reduce the noise is to place a pillow wall between your heads. The noise will bounce back off the pillow, perhaps giving you peace enough to drift off.
Some will eventually adjust to their partner’s snoring, over time. However, if the snoring has started suddenly, or is accompanied by long gaps, then consider a sleep study for you or your partner — this could be a sign of sleep apnea.
Tugs of War for the Covers
As well as sharing the bed, you’ll need to share the covers too. However, many people may find themselves suddenly exposed because their partner is a blanket hog. Don’t resent them for it; it’s entirely unconscious, especially if they’re new to sharing a bed with someone…or so I keep hearing. The simplest solution is to have your own blankets and covers, or maybe even a larger bed with more space to roam, so to speak.
Tossing, Kicking, and Thrashing
Someone people move more in their sleep than others. Light sleepers are especially more inclined to shift as they drift in and out of REM. If the movement is bothering you, you may want to consider these options. First, placing a protective layer of quilt and blanket can absorb the impact of any kicking feet or shifting limbs. A soft foam or gel mattress, such as a lull mattress, can also absorb the movement more effectively than a hollow spring mattress. If your bed is particularly small, then upgrading to a queen or king sized bed will also give more room for movement. Switching to a foam mattress could also reduce the impact of a partner who rolls around while they sleep.
If the movement is particularly violent or accompanied by incoherent murmurs or moans, it may be indicative of troubled sleep. If this continues for several nights in a row, it may suggest a condition that needs professional attention, such as restless leg syndrome.
Different Sleeping Times
Most couples nowadays are fully working. That is, both partners have a job. One of the unfortunate truths of this reality is that not all jobs synchronize perfectly. Someone may not return from their shift until well after bedtime while others may need to get up in the wee hours for theirs.
This can, of course, disturb those they share a bed with. When sleeping with a partner who may need to go to bed at a different time to you, be sure to set up an agreement about how the situation works. The simplest and most considerate is simply to promise to make as little noise as possible when going to bed or waking up. While you may still be disturbed for the first few nights, eventually your body will become used to the usual rhythms, and you’ll notice your partner moving around less and less.
Likewise, be considerate with the snooze button. An alarm going off every ten minutes because you’re too lazy to wake up on the first ring will likely disturb and irritate your partner. Seriously.