The bedroom is meant to be a sanctuary where we wind down from our busy lives, recharge our minds and bodies to embrace a new day. But for the 70% of U.S. adults who share their sleeping space with a partner, we often find ourselves playing tug of war with more than the bed sheets, clinging onto our different sleep needs, routines, and schedules. Battles ensue from the lights on/lights off dilemma, blanket thieves, night owls and early risers, and screen time, over we time. Sleep is essential to our physical, mental, and emotional health. When we are deprived of it, we get tangled up in resentment and our relationships suffer.
While we can’t change our chronotype – a gene we all have that influences when we’re prone to doze off and wake up and our production of melatonin – we can still have sweet dreams without banishing ourselves (or our partner) to the living room couch. Here are five ways to approach conflicts that arise under the covers to achieve a balanced sleep environment where both people are heard and their sleeping needs are met.
The Scandinavian Sleep Hack
Are you literally holding onto your covers by their last thread? Hygge and minimalist yet inviting furniture design aren’t the only ways Scandinavians have answered our prayers to all things cozy. Their beyond simple solution to all those blanket robbers out there is investing in two separate blankets. Yep, we wish we had already figured this one out too. This also resolves disagreements around how warm your bedding should be. If your partner insists on having the window open in the dead of winter, at least your blanket will keep you toasty.
Create a Calm Environment
A bedroom should feel like a calm oasis away from the rest of your home. A clean, comfortable, and organized space allows you to quiet your mind and leave the day behind. Keep your bedtime essentials in your personal nightstand so that everything you need is within arm’s reach and you’re not rustling through drawers (and disrupting your partner) to find them. Invest in simple storage solutions and embrace a muted color scheme that feels tranquil and light.
Clear Communication and Compromise
We know about the importance of having a love language in the bedroom, but having a sleep language is an act of love, too. Be open to making compromises about having cell phones, tablets, and televisions in the bed or bedroom. Maybe one person is comfortable wearing earbuds or an eye mask, or you both decide to designate your sleep sanctuary a technology-free zone. Remember that clever little device called an alarm clock? Invest in one that promotes a peaceful rest, as well as opaque curtains or blinds, quality bedding, and a mattress you’re both madly in love with.
You wake up well before sunrise; your partner doesn’t fall asleep until after midnight. While night owls and early risers fall in love and move into beds with each other, this difference can put a strain on your relationship. Or not. The answer is simpler than trying to fold a fitted sheet: go to sleep when you’re tired. Theoretically, it’s a nice idea to crawl into bed together but not if one person ends up staring at the ceiling while the other is in the land of nod. Respect each other’s schedules or body clocks and don’t take it personally. Gifting your significant other with a solid seven hours of dream time is priceless.
Connection is the super glue that keeps your relationship strong and healthy. After a long day, sex may not be on the table (or night stand) but spooning or having a quiet conversation are great ways to check in and decompress together. Respect each other’s needs and try to meet each other in the middle. If you need space (inches) to fall asleep, be their body pillow for ten minutes a night so they feel comforted and supported.