Best Valentine's Day Gift: More Sleep
Forget the chocolate, wine and flowers. If you want your relationship to thrive well beyond the winter holidays, consider investing in the gift of sleep.
According to a study recently published in the Journal of Family Psychology, newlywed couples who logged more sleep reported being more satisfied with their marriage the next day.
In our 24/7 society, sleep may seem like an afterthought, but it’s absolutely crucial to your health and happiness, says Heather Maranges, who led the research at the University of Florida. “We seem to treat sleep as an inconvenience or a luxury, but it’s a biological drive that we need to honor to do our best every day,” she says. And just as skimping on food can make you “hangry,” neglecting sleep can mess with your mood and take a toll on your relationship.
The main issue, says Maranges, is that being a good partner (and perceiving your significant other as one) requires energy. Think about the last time your guy or gal did something that annoyed you, like criticizing your driving or canceling dinner plans at the last minute. Did you let it go, or did you lash out or ruminate about it endlessly?
“It takes effort to think about your relationship in a positive way. Otherwise negative automatic reactions come out,” Maranges explains. And it’s much easier to put in that extra effort, even unconsciously, when you’re feeling well rested.
Sleeping Better Together
Whether you’ve been married for one year or 20, making sleep a priority helps your health and the health of your relationship. Getting to bed at a reasonable time so you can log enough hours is so important. But sleep quality matters, too, says Dr. Neomi Shah, a sleep medicine and pulmonary critical care specialist at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
Unfortunately, snoozing with a bedmate isn’t always easy, and some common issues tend to crop up again and again, says Shah:
He snores like a buzz saw. “About 75 percent of my patients who complain of snoring say that they’re getting checked out because their spouse has begged them to come in,” says Shah. Rather than retreat to separate bedrooms, she urges snorers to get to the bottom of the problem. In many cases, sleep apnea – a disorder in which you stop breathing for several seconds at a time while you’re asleep – is the culprit. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure device) that keeps the airways open should do the trick.
“Today’s CPAP devices are much smaller and quieter and look more cosmetically appealing than they used to,” says Shah.
She tosses and turns. Again, getting to the root of the problem is key. One possibility is restless leg syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health, this is a neurological disorder that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs that tends to worsen in the evening when you’re trying to stay still and relax. Lifestyle changes can help.
Tossing and turning may also be a sign that she’s not comfortable. It may be time to upgrade your pillows, bedding, mattress or bed base. For maximum personalized comfort, check out the FlexFit™ adjustable base, which enables sleepers to raise one side of the head of the bed at a time.
Dueling alarm clocks. If his alarm goes off at 3 a.m., chances are you’re getting up then, too – even if you don’t have any place to be for hours. To avoid having your slumber interrupted, wear earplugs and an eye mask, says Shah. If no one will be home to wake you later, consider wearing a gadget with a vibrating alarm.
She’s cold, he’s hot. One of you is constantly raising the thermostat and the other is lowering it. While no one temperature is right, the optimal setting for sound sleep is 66 to 69 degrees. “You need to have a drop in your body temperature in order for sleep to occur,” says Shah. That said, if you can’t get on the same page about what feels good, you’ll need some workarounds. Use breathable sheets and keep layers of blankets on hand so that each of you can comfortably drift off to dreamland.
Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® beds with SleepIQ® technology inside adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support. SleepIQ technology tracks how well you sleep each night, giving you personal insights into your sleep so you’ll learn how life affects your sleep and how sleep affects your life. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.