Are You and Your Partner Sleep Compatible?
Sleep disorders and incompatible nighttime habits can drive couples apart at night. But solutions do exist.
Sleep Incompatibility: It Increases With Age continued...
According to Paul Rosenblatt, PhD, a professor of family social studies at
the University of Minnesota, sleep incompatibility naturally increases with
age. "With older couples, sex is often in the past, snoring is a problem, plus
they're going to the bathroom multiple times a night," he says. Lots of older
couples end up not wanting to share a bed."
Other experts agree. "We get more complicated as we get older," Emsellem
tells WebMD. "For example, there's the development of hot
flashes in women, and snoring."
Sleep Incompatibility: Insomnia
Even in the absence of sleep disorders, getting a good night's rest remains
elusive for many couples. "We often take sleep for granted," says Kevin
Martinolich, MD, of the East Tennessee Center for Sleep Medicine. Martinolich
says it's not uncommon to see patients who have suffered from insomnia for several years before seeking
If you suffer from insomnia, you may need to look no further than the pillow
next to yours to discover what's keeping you awake. "You have to take a step
back and ask yourself, 'Is it marital problems that begot sleep problems, or
vice versa?'" Martinolich says.
Not sure? The answer may lie in what you and your partner are willing to do
to overcome sleep incompatibility. "It poses the questions: 'How strong is the
relationship? How flexible are the players?'" Emsellem says.
Strategies for a Better Night's Sleep: Sleeping Apart
An increasing number of couples, old and young, resolve sleep
incompatibility by parting ways at night. A recent NSF survey reported that an
estimated 23% of American couples sleep apart. British couples report similar
habits. A survey by Britain's Sleep Council found one out of every four couples
surveyed regularly sleep separately. The trend has become so firmly entrenched
that architects now regularly design new homes with two master bedrooms. The
National Association of Home Builders predicts that by 2015, more than half of
all custom houses will have dual master bedrooms.
But many couples remain committed to cuddling at night. Rosenblatt, who
interviewed 42 bed-sharing couples for his book Two in a Bed: The Social
System of Couple Bed Sharing, reported that, snoring and other annoyances
aside, the desire for intimacy and sheer closeness persuaded many couples to
stay under the same set of sheets.