Ask a Sleep Doctor: What if My Partner and I Have Different Sleep Schedules?By Jared Minkel, Ph.D.
Q: What if my partner is on a different sleep schedule that interferes with what I need to do to get better sleep?
Jared Minkel, Ph.D.: When it comes to quality sleep, bed partners can definitely be a blessing and a curse. Many people have a bed partner on a different sleep/wake schedule. For example, you may be asleep by 10 p.m. and rise early; whereas, your spouse may be a night owl who tiptoes into bed at 1 a.m., long after you’ve fallen asleep. I strongly recommend getting on the same schedule if you can, even if that means someone is going to have to wake up a lot earlier than he or she wants. If that’s not possible due to life circumstances, like child care responsibilities or both of you working inflexible hours, it’s worth considering separate rooms for the time being if your opposing sleep schedules are disrupting your quality of sleep.
There is consistent evidence that people sleep better alone. For one, you can get the temperature and bedding exactly as you like it. Plus, your partner’s snoring, kicking, or cover-stealing suddenly becomes a non-issue when they are not sleeping next to you. People sometimes worry that sleeping in separate bedrooms will harm their relationship by reducing time together and preventing sex. This is a judgment call, but if one or both of you is sleeping horribly, then sex and intimacy are likely suffering already. With more and better sleep, you may become less irritable, more patient, and more loving toward your partner. With a little effort, you may be able to find other times for intimacy as well.
If sleeping in separate bedrooms is not an option, you can try using earplugs, a sleep mask, and/or a white-noise machine. Finally, make sure your partner knows which of his or her activities are most disruptive to your sleep—people don’t always realize that a bathroom light can be blinding to someone who has been asleep for a couple of hours!
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