SnoringIt is the nightmare of every person who has ever shared a room, from siblings to college roommates to married couples. One person is left lying awake because the other person in the room snores like a chainsaw. While snoring can sometimes be “cured” by devices that help open a person’s airways, more often snoring is an inescapable nuisance. It either leaves both people exhausted because the non-snorer keeps waking up the snorer with orders of “you’re snoring, roll on your side,” or the snorer wakes up bright eye and bushy tailed from a good night’s sleep and is confused as to why their partner is about as friendly as a feral cat. There is no reason why either person in the relationship needs to be going without sleep. Separate sleeping arrangements can allow the snorer to sleep through the night without being awakened by a hissed “wake up” and let the non-snorer stop wondering why there is a lumberjack in the bedroom.
Hot vs. Cold NaturedThe classic issue of sharing a bed is when one person wants blankets and the other does not. She is freezing. He is roasting. She wants four quilts on the bed. He’s melting under the sheet. Sharing a bed can rapidly turn into a battle ground when one person is hot natured and the other is cold natured. Summer and winter leave both of them miserable, and spring and fall are not exactly a cake walk either. The answer is simple, yet many couples refuse to contemplate sleeping in separate beds. Utilizing separate sleeping arrangements, however, would allow each person to be comfortable when they go to sleep. She can curl up like a cat under a dozen blankets, and he can flop on top of the sheet like a drunken starfish. Neither of them have to listen the other complain or miss out on their own rest. They can sleep at the temperature that is comfortable for them.
Different Sleep LengthsThe average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but bed sharing can get unpleasant quickly if one person needs seven hours and the other is never functional on less than nine. When two people with very different sleep needs share a bed, someone usually ends up unhappy. Either the shorter sleeper has to lay awake in bed for two hours, or the longer sleeper is rudely awakened several hours too early each day. Neither of these is good for sleep hygiene. A person who is awake should get out of bed and go about their day. A person who needs more sleep should continue to rest. If the couple shares a bed, someone always loses. If they sleep in separate rooms, the shorter sleeper can get up and go about their day without bothering the person sleeping in, and the longer sleeper can continue to rest without making their partner feel like they are shackled to the bed.
Different Sleep and Wake TimesSharing a bed with a night owl is a nightmare for an early bird. The reverse is also true. When two people have very different sleep and wake times, someone ends up getting rudely awakened. Either the early bird wakes up when the night owl climbs in bed at 2:00 a.m., or the night owl is stuck cursing the sunlight when the early bird gets up at 5:00 a.m. This gets even worse when there is an alarm involved. Few people can sleep through the racket that an alarm makes in the morning. An alarm sound, after all, is meant to awaken people from deep sleep. So, the well-meaning “go back to sleep” from an early riser does not help much when their partner is wide awake at 5:30 in the morning. Plenty of couples live in this sort of situation either because one person has a longer commute or because they want to get a workout in before work. Mornings, however, do not have to be a point of contention between couples. All they need to do is start sleeping apart.
Different RoutinesPeople who are looking to ensure a good night’s sleep should make sure that they have a consistent bedtime routine. This could be anything from having a cup of herbal tea at night to listening to some calming music before bed. Problems, however, can arise when partners have different routines. If one person likes calming music before bed but the other likes to meditate in silence, a problem can quickly develop. Trouble can also occur if one person has a routine and the other does not. This leaves the person with a routine feeling out of sorts every night because they have no idea what their partner will do in the evening, thus negating the helpfulness of a routine.
Routines and the lack there of can also be a problem when partners are trying to sleep. If one person wants white noise and the other needs total silence to sleep, one person is always going to be unhappy. There is no reason for this to occur, however, since the couple only needs to stop sharing a bed to resolve the issue.
Children’s NeedsMost people are aware that when they become parents they can kiss uninterrupted sleep goodbye. Between crying babies, toddlers suffering from nightmares and teenagers trying to break curfew, a parent is never going to get the same kind of sleep they did before having children.
Whether for better or worse, children sometimes respond better to one parent than the other. A baby might calm more easily when mom holds her than dad, and a toddler might think that dad is better protection against monsters. One parent might also be better at staying up to great an unruly teenager sneaking in after curfew. In such cases, it is better when parents are sleeping apart. There is no reason for both parents to be exhausted in the morning. If one of them is rested, there is at least one authority figure who is not trying to corral children while moving through the fog of exhaustion.
Sleep DisordersSleep disorders are a nightmare for both those suffering from the disorder and whoever else is unfortunate enough to need to sleep in the same room. Sleep disorders can be invisible, such as overproduction or underproduction of melatonin, or they can be frightening and even dangerous to other such as R.E.M. sleep disorders. Some sleep disorders, such as certain variations of clinical insomnia, affect only the person suffering from the disorder. Most disorders, however, will take a toll on whoever else is sharing the room at night.
Sleeping separately from someone who has a sleep disorder is not being unsympathetic or uncaring. In such situations, one person needs to be functional especially if there are children involved. Most people with sleep disorders recognize the value of sleep since they get little of it themselves. They will understand why their partner felt the need to change rooms.
Partner Who Travels OftenSomeone who has a partner who travels often is probably going to want to have their own room. This is because the person who is “left behind” either feels lonely and unable to sleep when the traveling partner is away, or they are not used to having another person in their bed and so sleep poorly when their traveling partner is home. Neither situation is an ideal sleeping arrangement, and it is probably best if the couple sleeps in different beds. Though it may seem harsh or lonely at first, it will result in better sleep for both people. The traveler is used to sleeping alone when they are on the road, and their partner will get used to sleeping alone as well. This way, when the traveler is gone, both people are in sleeping arrangements that are familiar. Then, there is no resentment from the person who is “left behind.” They do not feel resentful when the traveler leaves and do not feel resentful that the return of their traveling partner has stolen their sleep.
Sleep is too important and too rare in today’s world to relinquish it easily. The many couples who struggle to sleep well together could benefit greatly from altering their nighttime arrangements and sleeping separately. Sleeping separately is highly unlikely to negatively impact a relationship. On the contrary, getting a better night’s sleep will likely have the couple feeling happier and more patient around their significant other. For the unusual couple that sleeps perfectly well in the same bed, on the other hand, there may be no reason to change a good thing. Sleep is surprisingly delicate, so “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”