Couple Sleeping: How to Get the Best Sleep Ever With Y
From snore-fests to blanket wrestling, sleeping alongside someone else can prove challenging. Whether you and your partner love to spoon, don’t like to touch during sleep, or something in between, here’s your guide to what you can expect when you share your bed, and how you can get the most restful sleep together.
If spending every night in the arms of your sleep mate is what dreams are made of, then making sure you both get a good night’s sleep should be more than a fairytale.
Slumbering in Sync
Getting used to another warm body in the bed is both pleasurable and tricky. They might snore, you might mumble in your sleep. There’s less space in bed, and more movement. One of you might prefer a cooler room and the other a warmer one, a softer mattress versus firmer, drifting off to the TV versus virtual silence. Even if you’ve been together for years, changes – from new schedules to a new house, medical procedures to kids – can make you feel like you and your partner are starting anew, sleep-wise.
Before you channel a 1950s sitcom and adopt twin beds, consider patience. Sleep synchronicity takes time and effort. It can help to focus on the pleasurable stuff: it’s nice to wake up beside someone, pillow talk brings couples closer, and cuddling on a cold night is comforting. Some 94% of couples who spent the night in close contact with one another were happy with their relationship, compared to just 68% of those who don’t canoodle during the night, finds research from The University of Hertfordshire.
While you’re sorting through all those differences — and many of them can be resolved with the right mattress and sleep accessories — evidence from a study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people with a loving partner sleep better and have less depression and anxiety that keep them up at night.
The type of deep, high-quality restorative sleep you need happens when you feel safe, secure and protected from threats, the way you do when you’re partnered up.
Common Sleeping Positions for Couples
No matter how long you’ve been together, most couples settle on the sleep positions that suit them best fairly quickly. Each of you naturally gravitates to the position you’re most comfortable with. If one partner is not happy with the position, the important thing is that you set aside some wide-awake time during daylight hours to have an honest talk with your mate about your sleep preferences. Make sure you’re both happy with your nightly arrangement. And if you’re not, start experimenting with meeting each other halfway, or at least somewhere closer to the middle of your shared bed.
Some people like to sleep snuggled up close to each other, like the classic spoon position. Others prefer the comfort and cooler temperatures of separate sides of the bed, referred to as cliffhangers, where you practically hang a limb or two over the edge of your respective sides.“If you’re lucky, you’ll find a perfect match with someone who shares your preferred sleep style,” says Evany Thomas, author of The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple’s Guide to the 39 Positions.But if your partner doesn’t enjoy the sleep position you do, it’s not the end of the shared bed. There are a number of compromise positions:
- Tetherball, where the close sleeper sleeps curled in a self-cuddling ball, while the solo sleeper keeps one comforting hand on their hip
- Paper dolls, where each sleeper spreads out in their own style, but still keeps one hand and one foot lightly touching
- Pillow talk, a face-to-face position as though you might whisper secrets to one another
- Back-to-back, where you both have the freedom to turn in opposite directions but remain connected
- Sweetheart’s cradle, where one partner lovingly lays their head on
another’s chest, a passion position that’s sweet to begin with, but hard to maintain as you move during the night
Common sleep positions also have variations. The laid-back spoon has one partner loosely cuddled against the other. Sleeping as soldiers means laying back-to-back with lightly touching hands or feet.
Experiment to find solutions that work for you both.
The most important thing about sleep positions in any relationship, Thomas notes, is that you find a good sleep-fit with your mate, or at least a “sleep-able” compromise.
Factors That Can Affect Your Ability to Sleep
Just as a lumpy bed and a warm room can affect someone when they sleep solo, other factors can affect your ability to sleep soundly with a partner. If you and your partner aren’t sleeping well together it may tie to a problem in your relationship. Does a good relationship come before good sleep, or does good sleep come before a good relationship? Like the chicken and the egg conundrum, relationship quality is intertwined with sleep. Couples who bicker or are unhappy with one another while awake may not get the quality shut-eye they need at night, finds a study in Sleep Medicine Reviews.
Beside your relationship quality, a host of other factors can take a toll on why you’re not getting the proper sleep together. Just as when you’re awake, compromise is key to getting along during sleep.
Other Factors That Can Keep You Turning and Tossing:
Snoring: A partner’s snoring is one of the most common relationship sleep obstacles. In a survey by the opinion poll analysis site FiveThirtyEight, just over 45% of responders said they slept apart due to snoring. Before one of you decamps to the couch, consider investing in earplugs, or ensuring the non-snorer falls asleep first. If you’re concerned your partner could have sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which people momentarily stop breathing, talk to them about discussing the issue with their doctor.
Sleep Number’s PartnerSnore technology may also be an option. The adjustable base bed gently raises your partner’s head to help open the airways and alleviate snoring.
Blanket wars: You wake freezing, because your shared duvet has ended up on your partner’s side, again. While romcom funny, it’s a serious matter if the push-pull regularly disturbs sleep. Many couples find using two separate blankets can alleviate this tug of war and keep both of you warm and cozy.
Mattress temperature: Two warm bodies in bed may create heat that you’re not used to. A larger mattress can often help dissipate heat, as will cooling sheets like the Sleep Number True Temp sheet set, which can help maintain your ideal microclimate as you sleep. Other accessories and mattress technology may help cool or warm your side of the bed as needed.
Competing sleep and wake times: You’re a morning person. Your partner is a night owl. Humans have an inherent circadian clock that syncs with the 24-hour light and dark cycle. Everyone’s clock acts as a gatekeeper for their sleep and wake cycles. Problem is, you and your partner’s may be different. Or perhaps you have competing work schedules. Such couples may have more challenges than those who hit the pillow at the same time, and wake that way too. Try tricking your gatekeeper by adjusting your bedtimes a few minutes toward each other’s to meet in the middle. Maybe you can head to bed together, cuddle, then the the night owl slips away for a few hours — and slips back later, as quietly as possible, so as not to wake the other half.
Movement during sleep: Despite your partner’s movement during sleep, most couples choose to remain in the same bed. Couples show a willingness to go along with possible sleep disturbances, like a restless partner, as part of being partnered, says a study in Chronobiology International. If your bedmate is particularly disruptive, they may want to follow up with their health professional to check for a medical cause. But for minor tosses and turns, it’s likely you either get used to some movement over time or think of it as a small price to pay for the comfort and security sleeping together brings.
Sleep talking or walking: Sleep talking may be short lived, sometimes brought about by excessive tiredness, alcohol or stress. Sleep walking, however, has similar triggers as talking, reports the Mayo Clinic, but it can also be a sign of other medical issues. The other partner may wake too, and also end up worrying and monitoring the sleepwalker . Sleep walking can also be caused by stress and sleep deprivation. If it occurs frequently, the partner should visit the doctor.
When Partners Don’t Sleep
If you don’t sleep enough, you may feel cranky, unfocused and not sharp. But if couples don’t sleep, there’s a second potential victim — the relationship.
Shortened sleep can jeopardize your relationship, a study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found. With less sleep, couples bicker more. They may act hostile toward one another, and are less likely to have the emotional ability to work through their problems. The study looked solely at heterosexual couples, but has implications for wider reach.
In a Time article, neurologist W. Christopher Winter explains that interactions that make a relationship: conversation between partners, social outings, details like picking up the dry cleaning or ingredients for dinner, fall into a black, inky hole when sleep deprivation sets in. Partners are more likely to overreact to minor annoyances, amplify their irritations and become more anxious and abrupt with one another.
What’s more, your ability to lock down memories and recall them suffers, finds a study in Nature Communications. So sleep deprivation affects your ability to concentrate and learn, meaning you may have trouble at work, school or with daily tasks. You might also forget key details that impact your home life. Before you chastise your partner for forgetting the milk, consider whether they’re getting enough sleep.
More Sleep Tips
Even if you and your partner have a pretty good sleep rhythm, many of us can still improve the quality of our shut-eye.
A white noise machine can provide the sounds of an ocean or soft rain, for example. The calming aroma of lavender essential oil in a diffuser or on your pillows might help lull you to sleep. Just check with your partner before bringing anything new into the boudoir.
Limiting potential sleep-disruptors like late-night junk food and evening alcohol can encourage good sleep, as can keeping smartphones out of the bedroom, or at least putting the kibosh on screen time an hour before bed. Research from the Harvard Health Newsletter finds that turning off all devices an hour before bedtime can help with getting good sleep.
A peaceful bedroom with little clutter and a soothing color scheme may help with good sleep, too. Bedtime rituals, changing into pajamas together, talking, snuggling or sex can also send you both off to dreamland sweetly.
How to Pick Mattresses, Pillows and Sheets Together
One important aspect of co-mingling your sleep is the mattress you sleep on. It’s imperative you have the right mattress, pillows and accessories to do bedtime together justice. In a Better Sleep Council survey, 85% of respondents say, “A good mattress is key for getting a good night’s sleep.”
You wouldn’t run without a good pair of running shoes, and you shouldn’t sleep without a good mattress. Sleep Number beds offer a variety of technology to solve most couple problems, including raising either side of the bed for snorers, dual temperature zones so you can select the warming or cooling that’s right for each of you, dual firmness control and SleepIQ technology, an app that tracks how well you both sleep.
If it’s time for a new mattress (and it is if it’s over 8-10 years old) or you’re ready for something bigger or better, Sleep Number offers beds that can be customized to your varied preferences. See how this couple fared with their new mattress.
Also, pillows can be a crucial component to a good night’s sleep. If you’re still using a two-pack that you bought somewhere at a discount store a decade back, it’s likely time for an update. Sleep Number has a vast array of customized pillows that can alleviate neck pain and elevate the head according to whether you’re a side, back or stomach sleeper. Take our pillow quiz to see what’s right for each of you.
When selecting sheets, consider fabric, thread count and their ability to wick away heat. Most people do well with thread counts between 800-1,500. While silk or satin looks fancy, many find it holds heat and feels too slippery. Whether you prefer crisp or soft may dictate additional choices such as percale or sateen. Finally, agree on a color scheme or keep neutrals front and center like crisp white linen or warm taupe.
Agreeing on a bedroom design may take additional compromise. Look for inspiration by checking out bedrooms on Pinterest or Houzz. Everything from the type of night tables you like to whether you need an over-the-bed ceiling fan is fodder for compromise. You may be able to combine furniture, or select the best furniture from each partner. Starting fresh with a new mattress and comforter or duvet is always a good way to begin. Have fun deciding on frills and extras like artwork and knick-knacks that you both love. Keep clutter to a minimum for good sleep, and remain flexible as you decorate.
Good sleep isn’t just a luxury. A solid eight hours can prove key to a good relationship. So, get to bed — your love might depend on it.
Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably.