October 14, 2017
Sharing your life and living space with another person can be incredibly rewarding, but a little friction along the way is inevitable. When you introduce sleep problems into the mix, a happy relationship can quickly become a battleground.
Whether your sleep issues are a result of your relationship or your relationship problems are occurring because of your own sleep issues, there is probably a solution (other than making your loved one sleep in a tent in the backyard).
About seven out of 10 American couples share a bed, and while it can be a great way to promote intimacy and strengthen the bond, bed sharing also poses some challenges. When one person suffers from sleep issues like insomnia or snoring, their partner often pays the price as well. Here are some of the most common sleep dilemmas faced by couples and what to do about them:
Snoring is one of the most commonly cited complaints when it comes to sharing a bed with someone. There are several ways to approach this issue, although a combination method usually works best. First, try to address the cause of the snoring. Often, changing sleeping positions can help–as back sleepers are more likely to snore than side or stomach sleepers. In the case of severe snoring, it’s best to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause. Sleep apnea is more common than most people think. In the meantime, the non-snoring partner can take steps to reduce the sleep disruption by wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine.
Bed or Cover Hogging
Sleeping with a bed hog or cover hog can be infuriating. When you wake up with your teeth chattering from cold, only to find your partner blissfully cocooned in the entire comforter, it can be hard to resist the temptation to shove them out of bed. In the case of cover hogs, sleeping with separate blankets usually fixes the issue. Bed hogging can be a tougher habit to work around. Often, a bigger mattress or separate beds is the best fix for this problem.
When your sleep schedules don’t mesh, it can create conflict. As in most aspects of a healthy relationship, communication is key. Get on the same page with expectations regarding bedtime, and be prepared to make sacrifices and reach a compromise to make sure your relationship doesn’t suffer.
Whether you’re not getting quality sleep because of your partner or you have your own sleep issues, sleep deprivation can rear its ugly head in a relationship in the form of moodiness and short tempers. Sleep and mood are tightly interwoven; not only can one affect the other, but sleep problems and mood disorders can become a vicious cycle that quickly spirals out of control. Lack of sleep makes you irritable, impairs judgement, and makes you more prone to experience negative emotions like anger and sadness. Insomnia is often both symptom and a cause of disorders like anxiety and depression. It’s no secret that being in a bad mood all the time, whether it’s from lack of sleep or from a mood disorder, can eventually wear on any relationship. If you’re experiencing moodiness due to inadequate sleep, or you’re dealing with overwhelming emotions, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
If you suspect that sleep issues are creating a rift in your relationship, take heart. Once you’ve identified the causes (or causes), it’s a matter of reaching a solution with your partner. Couples counseling can provide a third-party perspective and also help you discover whether there are underlying issues in the relationship that are being exacerbated by sleep problems. A joint visit to a sleep specialist may be just what you and your partner need to salvage your romance. One final tip: relationship and sleep experts alike recommend maintaining the sanctity of the bedroom by using it only for sleep and sex, not work.