September 05, 2013
There is much conflicting research on the quality of sleep involved in bed-sharing. According to some studies, it is detrimental not only to couples’ sleep cycles, but also their interaction and general health. Others assert that bed-sharing is key to lasting relationships. In any case, it is not unexpected for there to be at least a few hiccups for couples during the night. To lessen such disturbances, consider some of the following tips:
Partners who match their sleep schedules are more likely to harmonize in entering and exiting deep and light sleep cycles. In other words, partners are more likely to dream, stay still during heavy sleep and wake up in the morning with one another. Synchronization is healthier for not only brain physiology and the body, but for the mental and emotional state of both partners. If it is difficult for partners to sleep at the same time, they should still go to bed together. Reading with a dim light or listening to music with headphones can entertain the restless partner until he or she is ready to sleep.
Couples should seek a bed that can comfortably fit both persons and still have room for rolling around and kicking (for those who are particularly fidgety or feisty during the night). Ideally, the bed should be at least queen sized. It is recommended that couples shop and try out the mattress together before making a purchase.
Nasal strips, sprays or orthopedic pillows can help diminish snoring by aiding breathing and realigning the neck and spine for more efficient airflow. If the noise is still disruptive, earplugs are a useful resource.
Snoring can also be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. It is important to consult a doctor about the issue and be treated for the condition if it is present.
The recommended temperature for sleep is usually between 60 and 70 degrees. For those who find the room too hot, a fan by the bedside or fewer clothes are good options. For those finding it too cold, it is helpful to pile on more blankets, double-fold the sheets, invest in a heating pad or wear layers.
The artificial light given off through television, cell phone, tablet or computer screens is detrimental to sleep patterns. It can “trick” the brain into staying wakeful by hindering the release of melatonin, an essentially sleep hormone. Both partners should leave these devices out of the room or stop using them at least half an hour before sleep. Reading or soothing music is beneficial to help ease the brain into drowsiness.
The bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool. Sleeping masks or earplugs are helpful should one partner prefer slight light or music during the night.
Mattresses, pillows and sheets are also vital to sleep quality. If a partner is constantly moving around during the night, it may indicate the need to invest in better sleeping materials.
Although this may seem a last resort, sleeping apart has genuinely helped many couples in their relationships. Partners no longer blame each other for sleeping problems or wake up irritable and bleary-eyed in the morning. As long as intimacy is maintained during the day, there is no net negative effect on the relationship.
There is always going to be some give-and-take in bed sharing, whether in bedtimes, temperature, personal space or lighting. Contemplate how important your sleep is to you. To what extent are you willing to compromise for your partner?
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