By Jennifer Nelson
Does your partner’s snoring send you scurrying to another bedroom in the middle of the night? Do you sleep with a pillow over your head to drown out the noise? Do you find yourself staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep because of your partner’s snoring?
While coupledom includes its fair share of cuddling and spooning, sleeping can be a minefield of problems for new twosomes as they adjust to each other’s sleep idiosyncrasies and issues.
The sandman can be elusive for those with a partner who snores, thrashes, traipses to the restroom repeatedly, steals the blankets or exhibits any of a host of other sleep issues. A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 24 percent of couples sleep in separate rooms because of sleep issues.
There are myriad medical reasons why couples might choose separate beds, including sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and one partner’s insomnia. But not all who sleep separately are happy about it—a recent poll by the British mattress company Ergoflex found that half of respondents who slept separate from their partners said it made them feel distant from their partner, and 42 percent said it negatively affected their sex life.
Sleeping together does have its share of benefits. According to research by the University of Pittsburgh, sleeping with a partner promotes feelings of safety and security, lowering the “stress hormone” cortisol and increasing the “love hormone” oxytocin.
“Sleep is a critically important health behavior that we know is associated with heart disease and psychiatric well-being,” said Wendy M. Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the study, quoted in an article in The Wall Street Journal. “The psychological benefits we get having closeness at night trump the objective costs of sleeping with a partner.”
Seemingly incompatible sleeping partners can adjust to sleeping in the same bed using various techniques such as ear plugs, eye masks and specially made beds.
Those with chronic sleep issues should talk to their doctor about potential sleep disorders as well as possible solutions.
If you really want to co-sleep, it usually can be worked out. Of course, it may take compromise, adjustments and a sense of humor.
“My significant other and I have been living together for about five years,“ said Claudia Gryvatz Copquin of New York. “I like total quiet; he needs a noise machine to sleep.” Also, he likes the bedroom cold, while she prefers it cozy and warm. But they sleep in the same bed. “The temp wars are ongoing. Luckily, we love each other like crazy.”