50% of sleep disturbance is caused by sharing a bed.2 With many of us struggling to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, having someone else in your bed makes it even harder to get that quality shut-eye.
Sleeping apart usually suggests that there’s trouble in paradise, but it could be much better for you and your partner. If you’re sleeping alone, no one else is disturbing you – you’ll enjoy a better snooze, better health, and even a better relationship.3 If you and your partner sleep apart, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have all those intimate moments of sharing a bed. You can – you just go to your own space to sleep.
However, there are some pros to sharing a bed. Researchers at the University of Utah investigated what happens when partners are temporarily separated at night-time. They found that some individuals showed anxiety at being separated, so their sleep worsened.4 Therefore, sleeping in the same bed as your partner could be a relaxing and comforting experience – it just depends on how well your partner sleeps. If they don’t get a good snooze, you won’t either. Some evidence also shows that couples who sleep together stay healthier, too. Sharing a bed is the ultimate intimacy, with research suggesting that this intimacy helps to lower stress hormones and encourage feeling safe.5
If you like sharing a bed, but you’re struggling to sleep, we’ve got some helpful solutions to have a good night together in bed.
The majority of British couples still sleep in a standard double size bed – this provides each sleeper with just 67.5cm, which is less than a baby has in a cot.6 With the average sleeper tossing and turning up to sixty times a night7, you’re bound to be disturbed by a restless sleeper. Investing in a bigger bed is also an investment in your relationship.
There are many things to consider when you’re buying a bed, especially if it’s for two sleepers. The first thing you need to think of is the length of the bed. You should buy a bed that’s at least 10cm longer than the tallest person. As the length of a standard double bed in the UK is only 190cm, anyone taller than 5ft 11” should choose a bed that’s 200cm in length – a kingsize or superking bed suits this.8
Plus, the width of the bed is just as important. Although a double bed means you’re cosy, you don’t have much room to move if you share your bed. You’ll disturb each other anything you move, so you’ll disturb each other’s sleep. Getting a wider bed should result in a better night’s sleep for you both.
For more information about what to consider when buying a new bed, read our article, ‘Your Bed Buying Questions Answered‘.
Duvet hogging is a common grumble amongst those who share a bed, so make sure you’ve got enough duvet to go around. You could even consider separate single duvets, especially if you and your partner have different temperature requirements. As a comfortable temperature of 18°C – 24°C is essential for a good sleep, individual duvets with a tog rating suited to each partner will put an end to debates of whether the bed is too cold or too hot.9
Take Snoring Seriously
It can be incredibly frustrating when the person next to you snores. No matter how hard you try, you can’t block the noise out and you lose sleep. Snoring is one of the main reasons why couples sleep separately. If you or your partner has a snoring problem, it could be a sign of another sleeping problem, such as sleep apnoea, so it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. Find out more about snoring and sleep apnoea here.
Leave Gadgets Alone
Who wants to snuggle up to someone who’s focused on their phone? Not only is looking at your phone, tablet, or laptop a turn off for your partner, but it’s a turn off for your sleep, too. The blue light that’s emitted from these screens disrupts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This’ll keep you awake, and it’ll mess up your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is an internal body clock that runs in the background, deciding when you need to sleep or be awake. If this is disrupted, you won’t fall asleep easily and you could wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, read a book or have a relaxing bedtime routine that you and your partner can both enjoy. Not only does this help you settle for sleep, but it lets you and your partner have quality time together after a busy day.
Go to Bed at the Same Time
Try to go to bed at the same time together for at least three nights a week. Different body clocks mean that many couples tuck up at different times. If you’re already sleeping when your partner goes to bed, you could be woken up if you hear them moving about. One study found that couples who have similar sleep-wake cycles have stronger relationships.10