At the end of a long and tiring day, what almost everyone is looking forward to is to get that much-desired shuteye. Your own sleep drive will likely tell you when your body had enough and it’s time to call it a day (or night). While you hated having to sleep and take naps as a kid, you now understand just how crucial sleep is in order to function like a normal human being most of the time, if not all the time. You don’t have to worry about these issues when you live by yourself and don’t have to share your bed with anyone, not even your siblings but things drastically change once you tie the knot and you now have to share the bed with your partner or spouse.
Once a couple is past the cuddly honeymoon stage, the idiosyncrasies of married life and the daily grind starts to set in and tick some people off. Some people (especially men) suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea that can make sleep impossible for your spouse/partner. Other times, others just don’t like sharing their personal space. Now, should you really consider sleeping separately or accept the flaws of your partner? Is it really better to sleep by yourself or share it with a partner? Let’s all find out.
Are you one of the 60% of adults who shares a bed with a partner? Well, chances are it could be affecting your quality of sleep. A new study suggests that the majority of partners encourage behaviours that could actually promote insomnia in their bedmates, increasing anxiety levels and often making pre-existing conditions worse.
In order to examine the relationship between people who suffer from insomnia – a largely individual condition that affects the sufferer’s ability to sleep – and their partners, researchers gave questionnaires to 14 women and 17 men whose significant others were participating in a separate clinical trial for the condition. It was found that, whilst these people did not have sleep issues of their own, they often made adjustments in order to accommodate their loved one’s insomnia – including amending their own sleep, work and leisure schedules.
Many partners also admitted to trying to be ‘helpful’ with regard to their bedmates’ sleep problems, which – although appreciated by insomniacs – resulted in increased anxiety levels compared to partners who did not offer help. It was also concluded that such interventions were in vain, and generally went against sleep-hygiene guidelines.
It’s a given that you adjust to your partner’s sleeping routine/habits as you go along. As a result, you often sacrifice your own sleep or its quality in order to soothe your partner and help them sleep better. It is even more prominent for insomniac partners, who consequently contribute to the sleeping issues of their normal spouse.
Results showed that partners trying to make accommodations for their partner’s quality of sleep are more likely to have their own functioning affected, including ‘their own sleep…and life outside of work’.
And though making such accommodations can ‘make the patient feel supported’, it can actually cause anxiety across the board.
Many behaviours contradicted expert advice on how to improve sleep. Nearly 75% of partners encouraged early bedtimes or late rising, which is in ‘direct conflict with the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia’, researchers say.
42% encouraged ‘doing other things in bed’ like reading, browsing the internet or watching TV, and 35% encouraged ‘naps or caffeine’ – all of which reduce quality of sleep.
We all need to sleep but we all need to be loved too. These conflicting needs are highlighted once you get married. Since you are already sharing a bed, the choices and habits of one spouse can influence the other. It is nice to have someone to cuddle with but having to put up with the loud snoring, shaking movements and blanket wrestling can deprive you of sleep more often than not.
While there are some initial studies pointing out to the dangers of bed sharing, it also has its perks. It now boils down to your personal preferences. If you love your spouse that you are willing to put up with all his/her little quirks, then there’s no problem with that. But if you value your sleep even more and can’t tolerate getting disturbed in your slumber, then it’s up to you as well to weigh your options and make the difficult decision of choosing between the two if it all boils down to that.