Have a partner with different sleep needs? Here's what to do


Scientists believe that each of us has a unique sleeping chronotype that puts us somewhere on the spectrum between morning lark and night owl. With more than 60% of adults sleeping with someone else, it’s unsurprising that individual sleep patterns sometimes clash.


In fact, a survey by a leading bedroom furniture company found that 75% of couples report that they go to bed at separate times up to four nights a week. The major reasons include long work hours, socializing, or online shopping and video games.


Meanwhile, more than a third of couples say they argue because their partner disturbs them or wakes them due to conflicting schedules. 


Fortunately, you don’t have to resign yourself to a poor night's sleep just because you and your partner have incompatible bedtimes. Try these tips for enhancing your slumbers and your marital satisfaction.


Steps to take with your partner

1. Accept your differences. Individual sleep patterns are rooted in biology and habits, and they’re difficult to change. Tampering with them may leave you drowsy and unproductive, so it’s more constructive to work with your natural tendencies. See if you can find a middle ground.

2. Communicate openly. Communication is key to resolving any issue. Talk with your partner about your sleep needs and collaborate on finding solutions (this is often the hardest thing to do for people who have just started living together).  

3. Address root causes. It may be easier to argue about daily schedules when it’s really something more sensitive that’s troubling you. Ask yourself if you’re avoiding discussing deeper concerns.

4. Maintain multiple bedtimes. If it's impossible to go to sleep and wake at the same times, make staggered bed and wake times work for you. It can be a convenient way to divide up the household tasks. Perhaps the person who likes to go to bed later can be responsible for tidying up the dinner debris while the other person prepares and cooks dinner.

5. Consider separate bedrooms. Many happy couples sleep apart and are able to maintain intimacy in their relationship. It’s one option you can consider if you have enough space and if it seems to be the only solution to your problem.

6. Schedule time together. Whatever arrangements you decide on, make it a priority to spend time with your partner. Workout together, attend talks or learn something new together.


Steps you can take in your home 

1. Buy a larger bed. Research shows that you’re less likely to be woken up by your partner if you’re sleeping in a king-size bed. If that’s beyond your budget, you could still get your own blanket if ‘blanket stealing’ in the night is an issue.

2. Adjust the lights. Try a clip-on book light if you want to read in bed. For dressing in the morning, keep a lamp behind a screen instead of turning on the overhead lights. A client of mine has lower lumen light bulbs in some for exactly this purpose.

3. Minimize noise. You’re bound to make some sounds when you enter the bedroom after your partner has gone to bed. To minimize the disruption, wait at least an hour so they’re more likely to be in a deep sleep and harder to rouse.

4. Limit electronics. It’s easier to get your forty winks if you turn off TVs and computers at least an hour before retiring. If you’re carrying your phone to bed, put it on airplane mode under your bed.


Some more tips 

1. Remove others. More than 81% of married adults who typically sleep with their child report having a sleep problem, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Keep your kids in their own rooms. And the same goes for pets. Keep your pets off your bed and out of your bedroom.

2. Deal with stress. You’ll both sleep more peacefully if you’re relaxed. You may need to learn how to release stress as you progress through your day or meditating before bed may be enough. You could also look for ways to simplify your lifestyle so you aren’t so stressed.

3. Go camping. Studies show that sleeping outdoors can help to restore your internal clock. Pitching a tent in the back yard or visiting a national park could be a fun way to start working on healthier sleep habits.

Even if you’re a lark married to a night owl, you can have a good nights’ sleep and a happy marriage. Enjoy each other’s differences while you manage your body clocks so you’ll be well-loved and well-rested.


If you are struggling to come up with solutions to resolve your individual sleep needs so you can sleep well together, book in a confidential call with me where we can explore working together on how to resolve your sleep differences. 

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