How Couples Can Manage Different Sleep Schedules

By Brian Acton

Sharing a bed with your partner is a normal part of being in a relationship, but it can be tough on the quality and duration of your sleep. It isn’t just snoring or hogging the covers that causes problems - issues can arise when your partner has different sleep patterns than you.

There are many reasons that couples might go to sleep and wake up at different times. Maybe they have different work schedules, or one partner just needs less sleep to function. Maybe one partner is a night owl and the other likes to go to bed early.

But no matter the reason, having different sleep schedules can cause you and your partner to lose out on quality sleep. When one person is awake, they can cause disturbances for the partner that’s trying to sleep. Plus, disparate bedtimes and wakeup times can lead to fitful nights or mornings.

Here’s how couples can manage different sleep schedules for a better night’s rest.

  1. Bedtime Compromises

Completely changing someone’s circadian rhythms to align with yours is going to be difficult to do - your partner may be a natural night owl or require less sleep than you do. But if your bedtimes are within an hour or two of each other, you may be able to make a compromise.

Try to make small adjustments to bring your sleeping schedules closer together. For example, if you like to go to bed at 10PM but your partner likes to go to bed at midnight, you can each gradually adjust your bedtimes to meet in the middle at 11PM. Each partner can adjust their bedtimes gradually by 15 minutes each week until they’re aligned.

Of course, this will likely be impossible if your bedtimes are wildly different.

  1. Minimize Disruptions

If one partner’s late bedtime or early wakeup time is disturbing another partner’s rest, you should work to eliminate disturbances. There are many ways to do this:

  • If one partner likes to stay up late and play music or watch TV, they can get a set of headphones to reduce noise and hang out in another room until it’s time for bed.
  • If one partner likes to read late at night, they can do so in another room or use a small reading light that clips to their book, rather than use a lamp.
  • The partner that’s trying to sleep can use a sleep mask to reduce light pollution.
  • Night owls can dress in their sleeping clothes before their partner goes to sleep, so they don’t need to noisily undress when they come to bed.
  • Early risers can lay out their clothes the night before to reduce the time they spend getting ready in the morning.

 

  1. Sleep Separately

It may seem odd to sleep apart from your partner, but it’s a definite solution for many couples who wish to get better sleep. There are many reasons to sleep in separate bedrooms – including snoring, sleep apnea, and different sleeping schedules. Sleeping apart doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem with intimacy - in fact, if you’re both better rested, you may actually have more energy to connect.

Of course, broaching the subject could be tough - you don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings, make them feel rejected, or give the impression that you’re having relationship troubles. The best way to bring it up depends on you and your partner, and you may want this to be a last resort after you’ve exhausted other options.

 

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