For many people, there's nothing quite like cuddling up with a loved one and drifting off to sleep. However, not everybody gets the best rest in a crowded bed. In fact, there are some shocking ways sharing a bed can damage your sleep. For some people, it looks like snoozing is a solo activity.
Sharing a bed with your partner (or even a pet) can sometimes cause more disruptions than anything. And plenty of people find it necessary to prioritize sleep, even if that means sleeping alone. In fact, about 12 percent of people who live with a partner still sleep in separate beds, according to the 2013 International Bedroom Poll from the National Sleep Foundation. Although sharing a bed may make some partners feel closer, not everyone can rest easy when there's another person snoring and flailing away on the other side of the bed, and that's OK. "Our society tends to believe that if you don’t sleep in the same room, that it somehow indicates that there’s a problem with the relationship, and that’s not the case at all," said Robert Turner, a counselor at the Rose Sleep Disorder Center, in TODAY. Even in the happiest of relationships, there are plenty of common ways sharing a bed can wreck your sleep hygiene.
1. Your Pet Is More Disruptive Than Supportive
Humans aren't the only troublesome bed partners. In fact, cats may be as disruptive as other people when it comes to bed sharing. "Cats who slept in their owner’s bed were reported to be equally as disruptive as human partners, and were associated with weaker feelings of comfort and security than both human and dog bed partners," as researchers Christy L. Hoffman, Kaylee Stutz & Terrie Vasilopoulos reported in Anthrozoös. (Dogs were found to be less bothersome than other people in the bed.) If Fluffy is seriously costing you sleep, then consider giving her a separate sleeping space, or chat with your veterinarian for advice.
2. You Adopt Your Partner's Sleep Issues
If your partner struggles with insomnia or other sleep issues, then these may become your sleep problems, too. Sometimes a person's sleep disorders may negatively affect their partner's rest, according to a 2017 study in the journal Sleep Disorders. On an interesting note, the reverse also seems to be true. People with sleep disorders appear to benefit from sharing a bed with a healthy sleeper.
If your partner struggles with insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or some other sleep disorder, then consider speaking with a doctor about your options. With treatment, hopefully you'll be able to share a bed in peace.
3. Their Screen Habit Keeps You Up
Maybe your partner requires the soothing sounds of The Office reruns in order to fall asleep. Although as many as two-thirds of adults worldwide watch TV to wind down before bed, the light emitted from a television or other electronics can hamper the body's ability to produce melatonin, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This may make it more difficult to get quality, restful sleep. The TV or tablet your partner uses at night could interfere with your sleep as well, so ask them to use their device in another room, or invest in a really good eye mask.
4. You Just Can't Get On The Same Circadian Rhythm
What happens when a night owl partners up with a morning lark? It's actually a common problem. In general, females tend to get up earlier and go to bed earlier than males, and this difference can span as much as two hours, according to data from the National Sleep Foundation. Compromising on a bedtime that falls in the middle of your preferred sleep times, or maybe even opting for separate bedrooms, can make sure you're peaceful and well-rested for the waking hours of your relationship.
5. You Follow Their (Bad) Advice For Sleeping Better
If you already struggle with insomnia, then your partner (however well-meaning) may be making it worse. "It is possible that partners are unwittingly perpetuating insomnia symptoms in the patient with insomnia,” said lead author Alix Mellor, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, about a study presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS). A partner's friendly encouragements to sleep in or watch TV in bed, for instance, can work against the current recommendations for insomnia treatment.
In sum, your life partner might not be the best sleeping partner. If you are concerned that your partner's sleep routine is hindering you from getting a good night's rest, it's probably a good idea to set some strict boundaries about what is and isn't allowed in the bedroom, i.e. phones. Hopefully you'll soon figure out a routine that works for you both.