The 8 Sleep Habits that Are Driving Your Partner Nuts
Falling asleep in the arms of someone you love is a beautiful thing—until the snoring, tossing and turning, and suffocating body heat begin. We got sleep gurus to share the sleep habits that are most troublesome, and how you can snooze more peacefully together.
You go to sleep too early—or late
Is one of you a night owl and the other an early bird? While at first it might seem like a mere personal preference, it’s actually a genetic predisposition. “We have this genetic propensity for sleep drive and timing from the PER3gene, which can have an effect on when you go to bed, eat meals, and even when you want to have sex,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of the bestseller GOOD NIGHT. While it’s completely natural that partners don’t always have the same sleep schedule, forcing one to adhere to another’s schedule isn’t the best solution. For example, if you need more sleep than your spouse, forcing yourself to go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time might lead to sleep issues. To reduce awakenings while the night owl prepares for bed, use “low-blue-light night lights.” These night lights have lower levels of the blue wave spectrum of light and don’t disturb sleep as much as traditional light. White noise machines are also helpful in reducing disturbance due to noise. Check out the things good sleepers have in their bedrooms.
You like the room too hot or too cold
Some people like to snuggle up under a mountain of covers, while others like it cool, and may even prefer different blankets or bedding. Since your body temperature isn’t something you can regulate—you either run hot or cold or somewhere in between—your best plan of action is to have separate sheets or one that consists of two different types of textiles. “There are comforters you can buy made of half warm material and half cool, as well as devices that are made of cool or warm water running through, like an electric blanket,” says Dr. Breus. “That way you can just have the cool side going for one person and extra blankets for the other.” If one person is experiencing changes in temperature, for example when a woman is going through menopause, it’s best to keep the room at a cold temperature, according to Dr. Robert Oexman, a chiropractor and director of The Sleep to Live Institute. “Research has shown that decreasing room temperature can reduce the number of hot flashes (below 68 degrees), so in that case, you can use extra blankets to stay warm,” he says. Experiment with sleeping without pajamas to stay comfortable.
You move around way too much
According to Dr. Oexman, the second most common cause of co-partner disturbance is pulling on sheets and blankets as one partner shifts during the night. “It’s very common for people sleeping to move throughout the night by either pulling or disturbing the top sheet and blankets, which can easily wake up and irritate the person we’re sleeping with,” he says. The easiest way to solve this issue is by using separate sheets and blankets. That way, no matter what size mattress you’re sleeping on, you have one fitted sheet on the bottom. On top, each of you should have a separate twin size sheet and cover(s). In the morning, the bed could be made with a cover that matches the size of bed your sleeping. These are the sleep secrets doctors wish you knew.
You’re too touchy-feely
While it’s completely normal for partners to lay together or even fall asleep in a physical embrace when they first get into bed, most turn away from each other when they’re actually ready to fall asleep. A key difference in sleep habits between couples is whether or not they prefer to fall asleep while hugging, snuggling, or touching one another in any capacity. This can also be an issue of heat—one person gives off heat and the other is always cold. But research shows that partners sleep best when they don’t fall asleep touching. In fact, when people upgrade from a full-size to a queen or king size, co-partner disturbance goes down. “What most people don’t realize is that when they’re sharing a queen size bed, they’re actually sleeping in less space than a crib mattress,” Dr. Oexman explains. If you or your partner is too hands on, a bigger bed might solve your troubles. Follow these tips for your best sleep over.
You love late-night TV
You’re in the habit of catching the late night shows before settling yourself to sleep, while your partner prefers to snooze to the sounds of silence. But your partner might have a point: Studies link the use of electronics in bed to lower melatonin levels and poor sleep. “A good solution is investing in pillow speakers that can transmit the sound of the TV inside a pillow, so only the person resting on it can hear anything,” suggests Dr. Breus. Then of course, there are always headphones with an iPad or tablet. Even if your partner is a fan of TV before bed, you might run into disagreements over who controls the remote. In this case, Dr. Breus suggests switching off every 30 minutes and taping your shows—not using the DVR—so you can watch them. Or, find agreed upon shows that you both like, have them on the DVR, and set a specified time for bed. These daytime activities can help set you up for a good night’s sleep.
Your incessant snoring
Research conducted by the Sleep to Live Institute showed snoring to be the number-one cause of co-partner disturbance. And the incidence of snoring only increases with age due to weight gain, decreased muscle tone, and behaviors like smoking and alcohol use. “There are simple fixes to solve the problem, including mouth guards, positional sleep aids to encourage side sleeping, pillows, and surgery,” says Dr. Oexman. The best solutions are decongestants, weight loss, and some of the anti-snoring devices on the market. Mouth guards can work well here, as can internal nasal dilators (MUTE or Brez), as well as external nasal dilators (Breathe Right Strips). Obviously earplugs can help, as well as moving the snorer onto their side, known as positional therapy.
Your untreated sleep apnea
Included in the number-one cause of co-partner sleep disturbance is untreated sleep apnea, with its accompanied loud snoring. “Like snoring, I’m always concerned when partners choose another bedroom over treatment, as sleep apnea comes with a greater risk in that, if left untreated, it can lead to severe health consequences,” says Dr. Oexman. “A partner would never ignore their partner’s diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol, so they shouldn’t ignore sleep apnea while their partner suffers in the other bedroom.” Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that is accompanied with snoring and long pauses in respiration when the throat closes. These pauses in respiration are long enough that oxygen levels drop and put stress on the heart, so it’s important to seek the assistance of a medical professional early on in your symptoms.
Your snuggle sessions with fido
While your dog or cat may be incredibly loving and comforting to sleep with, the movement of pets in a bed adds to the disturbance that many people already experience. “One of the hardest behavioral changes my patients make is moving their pets to a separate sleeping surface,” says Dr. Oexman. “But it’s in your and your partner’s best sleeping interest to find a nice animal bed to place in your bedroom for your pet.” Just remember to be prepared to spend at least two weeks adjusting you and your pet to the new sleeping arrangement!