Sharing a bed can bring you closer to your partner, but it can also be difficult when you have different sleep needs. Snoring, sleep staggered schedules and too hot or too cold room are all common sleep problems. But it’s still possible to deal with these issues and get a full night’s sleep with your partner.
The basics of sleep hygiene
Whether you sleep with a partner or alone, your bedroom should be as dark, cool, and quiet as possible. Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Try to avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or large meals 3 to 4 hours before bedtime because they can prevent you from sleeping. And turn off your smartphone, tablet, laptop and TV. The light from these devices can slow the release of melatonin by the brain, a hormone that helps you fall asleep.
“Some people can’t fall asleep because they can’t turn off their brains,” says Lynn J. Goodloe, MD, medical director of Pacific Rejuvenation Medical in West Hills, California. “Rather than working on the computer, do something relaxing before you go to bed.”
To help you relax, try breathing exercises: breathe slowly and deeply through your nose using your diaphragm muscles. Visualization exercises are another way to relax that helps you reduce stress through the use of mental images.
Snoring and sleep apnea
Snoring is a common sleep problem for many partners. Almost half of us (45%) snore some or all of the time.
For those who sleep with a snorer, consider going to bed before your partner. If you are already asleep, it is easier to reduce the noise. You can also wear earplugs, use white noise, or listen to music while you fall asleep. Just make sure it turns off on its own so it doesn’t wake you up.
If snoring keeps you awake at night, here are a few other things you can try:
- Stay at a healthy weight. When you are overweight, excess tissue in your throat can lead to snoring.
- Stop smoking. Smoking increases your chances of snoring.
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol slows down your central nervous system and excessively relaxes the muscles in your neck, which leads to snoring.
- Sleep on your own. When you sleep on your back, your tongue is more likely to slide down your throat. This narrows your airways and blocks the flow of air. One idea: sew a tennis ball on the back of your pajama top to help you stay by your side.
- Treat nasal obstruction. Nasal problems like allergies, congestion, a cold, or a deviated septum (twisted tissue between your nostrils) can all block the flow of air through your nose and cause snoring.
- Wear nasal strips. You put these bands on the bridge of your nose to widen your nasal passages for better breathing.
- Sleep on a slope. Lift the head of your bed about 4 inches.
Besides snoring, you can briefly stop breathing or gasp. These are all signs of the sleep disorder, sleep apnea and require a visit to the doctor. They will ask you questions about your sleep and your medical history and can also ask your partner to share what they observed.
For Benin case of sleep apnea, your doctor may first suggest lifestyle changes, including weight loss and if you smoke, stop. If it turns out that you suffer from sleep apnea moderate to severe, they can recommend a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). While you sleep, you wear a mask that sends air into your nose and mouth. The constant flow of air opens your airways and stops sleep apnea.
Studies show that a CPAP machine may improve sleep quality of both partners, and supportive partner can help you follow the treatment. But there are obstacles. Keep in mind that it takes time and patience to get used to a CPAP machine. But in the long run, it will help you avoid more problems with sleep apnea.
You are an early riser, while your partner is a night owl. How can you make sure that the two of you are getting enough sleep? “The important thing is just to respect the other person’s habits,” says James Rowley, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at DMC Detroit Recoming Hospital and president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
For example, if you later make sure to watch TV while your partner is sleeping, make sure you go into another room. Also, be as quiet as possible when getting in and out of bed to avoid waking your partner.
A cooler room, between 68 and 72 degrees, is your best bet for optimal sleep. If you are cold while your partner is sleeping warm, you will have to compromise. “It’s easier to add blankets than to take them off if you’re already hot,” Rowley explains.
You may want to try sleeping with your own blanket for the perfect sleeping temperature.
The right mattress is crucial for a good night’s sleep. Keep these things in mind when shopping for a new mattress:
- Stability. The more your mattress bounces or is less stable, the more likely you are to disturb your partner while they sleep. Look for a mattress that isolates movement and reduces motion transfer. Foam mattresses tend to be less bouncy than other types.
- Support. Your mattress should support each person according to its size, weight and sleep style, you sleep on your back, side or stomach.
If possible, try a mattress together before you buy it to make sure it works for both of you.
If it turns out that your sleeping habits and those of your partner are too different, the solution might be to sleep in separate rooms. It’s not ideal, but it could mean a better night’s sleep.