Sweet Dreams! How to Improve Your Sleep with Your Partner
There's a reason couples love to cuddle up together. Sleeping in the same bed makes us feel comfortable and more secure, and many of us find it easier to fall asleep with a partner. Unsurprisingly, there's a physiological reason behind this: sleeping together causes a drop in cortisol, a stress hormone, and boosts levels of oxytocin, which plays a role in bonding. It might also lead to better overall health.
That's all well and good, but what happens when sleeping together becomes a problem? Because of our different sleep habits and preferences, we often sleep more poorly with our partner than when we sleep alone. This is especially true for women, who wake up more often when sleeping with a partner, perhaps because men are more likely to snore. If this is the case in your relationship, don't throw in the blanket just yet—every problem has a solution, and sleep isn't an exception. These simple fixes will have you counting sheep together in no time.
Solution: There's no reason to endure a lifetime of extra-loud zzzs—this problem has a number of simple fixes. Snoring is caused by the airways becoming narrowed, most usually by sleeping on the back. Anti-snore pillows create a good sleeping posture that helps keep the airways open, and full-body pillows can make it more comfortable for back sleepers to switch to their sides. Losing weight—which can reduce pressure on the neck—and avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills can also prevent snorers from getting kicked in their sleep by their partners. If these solutions still don't fix the problem, consider seeing a doctor. Heavy snoring may indicate an underlying health issue.
Problem: Tossing and turning
Solution: If your partner's sleep isn't sound, yours won't be either. And if your partner tosses and turns every night, it might be difficult to resist tossing him or her out of the bedroom. The best—but priciest—fix for this is a larger bed and a mattress designed to reduce the transfer of motion. If you're not ready to drop the cash, consider using smaller, separate blankets, so that your partner's movements don't pull on your bedding. Also, replacing crisp cotton sheets with soft sheets that resist motion transfer can help keep the noise down.
Solution: You like the thermostat set to "Alpine Breeze," while your partner prefers "Tropical Bog." What do you do? Here's another situation in which using smaller, separate blankets might be the easiest fix. Set the thermostat somewhere in between your preferences, and each use a blanket (small and light, heavy and down-filled) to make your sleeping temperature just right for you. Thick pajamas and socks—or a lack thereof—can also work wonders.
Problem: Different sleep schedules
Solution: If you're a night owl or an early bird, there's not much you can do to change that. However, both types can reduce the amount of noise they create when getting in or out of bed while their partners are sleeping. Night owls: finish your nighttime routine (showering, brushing teeth) before your partner goes to sleep, so you don't disturb him or her with the buzz of an electronic toothbrush at 2 am. Early birds: invest in a vibrating wrist alarm so your night owl mate doesn't have to be shocked out of sleep at daybreak.