It’s common to struggle to sleep alongside a partner. Common issues among co-sleeping couples include noise from snoring, lack of space in the bed, fidgeting, stealing the duvet, excessive body heat, and sleepwalking. Many of these problems can be resolved through lifestyle changes and honest communication.
If you can’t fall asleep next to your partner, try the following:
- Take naps together
- More comfortable mattress
- Separate duvet covers
- Go to bed at different times
- Change sleeping position
- Allow each other more space
- Resolve any problem behaviors, such as watching TV
- Block out unwanted noise, such as snoring
- Don’t go to sleep after a row
- Better sleep hygiene
Master the art of sharing a bed with your partner, and you can enjoy the benefits without the drawbacks. If you cannot resolve issues that arise from sharing a bed, consider separate rooms.
Should I Sleep in the Same Bed as My Partner?
For many people, the idea of sharing a bed with a partner is the definition of domestic bliss. Frontiers in Psychiatry explains how sleeping in proximity can help couples synchronize their sleep schedules.
Unfortunately, it’s common to struggle to sleep when sharing a bed. Don’t suffer in silence if you’re struggling to sleep next to your partner, as a lack of sleep can damage your physical and mental health.
What’s more, there’s every chance that your partner has just as much difficulty sleeping next to you. You’ll both be happier if you identify the cause of the shared insomnia and look to resolve it.
Why Can’t I Sleep When My Partner is Next to Me?
Potential explanations for struggling to sleep with a partner in the bed include:
- Lack of space
- Inability to adopt a preferred sleeping position
- Excessive heat generated by two bodies in the bed
- Differing preferences in bedroom lighting and ambient noise
- One person using more than their share of duvet or covers
- Noise from partner (i.e., talking or snoring during sleep)
- Partner is physically active during sleep (i.e., kicking and thrashing or sleepwalking)
- Partner is prone to nightmares and night terrors
Simply accepting that sleep may elude you now that you have a partner isn’t an option.
Sleep Medicine Reviews explains that sleep quality is often linked to happiness and contentment in a relationship. Separate rooms are an option, but try to resolve the issue of sharing a bed first.
I Can’t Sleep Next to My New Partner
Sharing a bed with a new partner is often equal parts exciting and trepidatious. While it suggests that a relationship is blossoming well, there’s a range of co-sleeping issues to overcome.
The first of these is likely an adjustment to sharing a bed as you may have established a routine for sleeping alone. Where you once had the freedom of the entire bed, you now need to accommodate the presence of somebody else.
When we sleep, we are at our most vulnerable. Your subconscious may be remaining on high alert, unsure if you can trust the person in your bed 100%. As you grow comfortable around your new partner, this will change.
How to Sleep Better Next to Your Partner
If you’re struggling to sleep with your partner beside you, look to resolve the issue. Before you resort to booking a night in a hotel or banishing your spouse to sleep on the couch, consider these ten techniques for superior co-sleeping.
1/ Nap Together
Ordinarily, we would advise against napping as sleeping during the day could make it even tougher to doze off at night. Napping with a partner could be an effective way to practice co-sleeping, though.
Set the alarm for around 30 minutes and share your bed with your partner as though it is bedtime. If you manage to nod off during this time, that’s great as it suggests you are starting to feel more comfortable sharing your bed. Even if you don’t, though, it’s all welcome practice.
2/ Change of Mattress
There are three main reasons to consider buying a new mattress:
- Increasing size – say, from a Double to a Queen – will allow much more space for two sleepers
- Purchasing a cooling mattress will combat the additional body heat of an extra person in a bed
- A superior mattress with more springs will be sturdier and absorb movements from a partner better
If you can afford a new mattress, it’s worth considering. Shop together with your partner and find a mattress that meets both of your needs.
3/ Individual Covers
Does your partner tend to hog the duvet and wrap it around themselves, leaving you shivering? Do you like to sleep with a heavy quilt, while your partner prefers something light and airy? Do you find that one comforter isn’t big enough for two people?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the answer is seemingly simple. Just get in a second duvet. This way, you can each have a cover that suits your preferences and use it as you see fit.
This may seem a needless expense or look aesthetically strange, but would you share a pillow with your partner? Likely, the answer is no if you plan to sleep well, so take the same approach with a duvet.
4/ Don’t Go to Bed at the Same Time
We all have different bodies and brains and thus fall asleep at different rates. As explained by Behavior Research and Therapy, attempts to force urgent sleep don’t always work. If you keep alternative hours to a partner, embrace this.
It’s certainly a nice idea to head to bed simultaneously with a partner and share hormones, but sometimes that does more harm than good. If one partner isn’t ready for sleep, they’ll likely fidget, toss and turn, so neither of you will sleep in this instance.
You’ll need to set some basic requests. One partner coming to bed later will not help if they wake up a sleeping partner. If you can keep the activity quiet and respectful, though, this arrangement will work.
5/ Change Sleeping Positions
Finding the ideal sleeping position for one person can be challenging, requiring significant trial and error. Two people sharing a bed will face twice as much difficulty. All the same, it is critical that you and your partner are both comfortable when co-sleeping.
A popular position for couples sharing a bed is back-to-back, and this will release bonding hormones without the risk of overheating through excessive contact. Just because this is the default position, though, doesn’t mean it will work for you and your partner.
You may need to experiment – and possibly even compromise on a happy medium. Don’t just assume that you can both assume your favored sleep positions when sharing a bed, as they may be incompatible.
6/ Stay Close But Don’t Touch
As explained by Science Daily, it’s advisable to retain a degree of closeness when sharing a bed. Couples that sleep more than an inch apart experience a less satisfying relationship.
This doesn’t mean that you and your partner should be interlinked. The closer you are, the likelier you are to disturb each other’s rest. Fidgeting, snoring, bruxism, and talking in sleep will all be magnified by proximity.
Aim to engage in any physical contact before drifting off to sleep, then give each other half an inch or so of space. If you must share contact, use feet or other, smaller body parts.
Attempting to turn two bodies into one overnight is destined to fail.
7/ Discuss Problem Behaviors
It’s unlikely that a partner will deliberately sabotage your sleep. Consistent bad habits, such as waking you to talk or insisting on hogging the duvet cover, can feel intentional and ill-spirited, though.
If your partner has bad habits at bedtime, make them aware of this. Examples of unwelcome behaviors while you’re trying to sleep, aside from those mentioned above, include:
- Coming to bed after you and failing (or refusing) to do so quietly
- Grinding teeth in bed (bruxism)
- Insisting on cuddling when you prefer not to
- Opening windows or turning on lights due to personal preference
If you are adamant that your partner disturbs your sleep on purpose, cease sharing a bed.
8/ Wear Earplugs or Use Ambient Noise
Noise is one of the biggest challenges to sharing a bed. Snoring, talking in the sleep, bruxism, or even just getting out of bed due to broken sleep, can all wake a partner from their slumber. This can quickly grow frustrating, especially if it’s a common concern.
If you’re a light sleeper, consider getting earplugs. If you find these uncomfortable, use a source of ambient noise (assuming that your partner agrees). This could be the radio or soundscapes downloaded through an app or played through YouTube.
These soundscapes come in many forms. You may prefer a guided meditation, a lullaby-style musical arrangement, or even just a recorded sound such as rainfall on leaves.
The purpose of these soundscapes is to mask the immediacy and suddenness of other external noise.
9/ Never Sleep on an Argument
Couples get into arguments sometimes. Life is stressful, and we’re all likeliest to occasionally have substantial differences of opinion with the people closest to us. Try to avoid bringing these disputes into the bedroom, though.
You may not be able to completely make peace and resolve an argument before retiring. At least try to agree to a truce until the morning as two angry people sharing a bed does not make a positive atmosphere.
Bringing stress and frustration into the bedroom, especially if the source of this stress and frustration is lying with their back to you overnight, will reduce sleep quality.
As explained by Aggression and Violent Behavior, this will increase your sense of anger in the morning. Before you know it, you’re trapped in a vicious circle.
10/ Practice Superior Sleep Hygiene
Examples of sleep hygiene routines to get into include:
- Set a standard time for retiring to bed and stick with it
- Avoid access to electronic appliances for at least 30 minutes before bed
- Relax and clear your mind before getting into bed
- Ensure that your body temperature is cool-to-moderate, not running hot
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol
- Don’t eat too late – give your body several hours to digest an evening meal
If you both practice these habits to the point that they become second nature, you and your partner are likelier to sleep peacefully through the night – and co-exist in the same bed without any issues.
Some people aren’t capable of sharing a bed for an entire night. There is no shame in this, and it is not admitting defeat to sleep in separate rooms.
If that improves your sleep quality, and by extension, your relationship, it’s a worthy sacrifice. All the same, do try to master co-sleeping as there are undeniable benefits.