photography by PHUONG NGUYEN
Though movies portray a very different story (one that involves waking up with a smoky eye, for instance), so many couples struggle with sharing a bed. In fact, a recent National Sleep Foundation survey found that one in four married couples do not sleep together. Whether your own significant-other sleep struggle involves snoring, temperature wars, or blanket tug-of-war, these tips will make co-sleeping a much more palatable enterprise — California King or not.
Irena and Nik James, married co-founders of Evoté Beauty, decided to let the scientific facts prevail when making decisions regarding their sleep situation. “Nik used to constantly urge me to get more sleep—and he has succeeded in helping me improve my sleep habits, especially by cutting off my (and his) exposure to blue light earlier in the evening,” notes Irena.
Adam Tishman, co-founder of sleep company Helix, says that investing in a new mattress when moving in together is always a good idea, but going with a customized mattress is an even better idea. “That way, your needs and preferences will be acknowledged and accounted for,” he explains. Helix allows the option to personalize each side of your mattress individually and split it right down the middle if your needs and preferences are different. “Your side of the bed can actually be your side of the bed!” he says. You can customize yours using the brand’s sleep quiz.
Respect each other’s space.
Who can forget the iconic “Friends” scene in which Ross describes in Dickensian detail exactly how he tricks Rachel into thinking he’ll cuddle with her all night but in reality is “rolling” her away from him? The hug ‘n roll struggle is real. However, respecting each other’s space doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t cuddle. “This is about understanding each other’s personal spatial needs,” Tishman says. He adds that some couples love to fall asleep spooning, while others are on opposite sides of the bed facing opposite directions. It’s about understanding what your partner wants and needs and respecting that. “It’s also about resisting the urge to starfish over the whole bed,” he says.
Create a “middle-of-the-night” code.
Whether he’s snoring or she’s acting out her dream interpretive dance-style, he’s hogging the covers, or she’s rolling over onto your side—all it takes is a simple code to correct these things. “Deciding that a light tap means ‘roll over onto your side’ or ‘give the covers back’ will work wonders in that middle-of-the-night confusion” Tishman says. “This way, feelings won’t be hurt because you can avoid giving your partner that sharp elbow.
“Literally,” says Kalle Simpson, co-founder of the Night Pillow. Cuddling is also a temperature thing, in addition to a spatial one. She recommends limiting snuggling to the morning or before trying to fall asleep. “Sleeping close to one another keeps both of your body temperatures up, but your body temperature needs to fall in order to successfully drift to sleep and stay asleep,” she explains. “Not allowing it to drop can lead to poor sleep quality.” If you are going to snuggle, then try turning the air down even further than you normally would to offset the body heat. Irena James notes that she sleeps with an extra blanket only on her side of the bed, “while Nik barely covers himself throughout the night.” Find the bedding-weight concept that works for you.
Get on the same schedule.
Simpson says that it’s always best if you can be on the same schedule so you are not disrupting the other person by climbing in and out of bed at irregular times or snoring while they are trying to doze off. “If you can’t be on the same schedule both morning and night, at least try to get on the same schedule for bedtime, since falling asleep is often the most challenging part of the sleep cycle,” she advises. Tishman notes that everyone has a different internal clock, which determines their ideal bedtime and their ideal wakeup time. “That programming is something that you really can’t change, though many have tried,” he says. “If you and your partner live on different schedules, set boundaries around when the bedroom is for sleep only.”
Block out light and sound.
If you can’t get on the same sleep schedule, then address disruption issues by using tools to block out light and sound. “Eye masks are great to block light, and sound machines or earplugs can help negate sounds, ranging from your significant other’s snoring to their early morning texts,” Simpson says.
Simpson notes that many bed-sharing troubles can be alleviated by investing in a bigger bed. “Space allows us to keep cool and remain comfortable throughout the night,” she explains.
Have more sex.
Research shows that getting busy before bed can greatly improve sleep quality. “Also, oxytocin, a chemical that is released during sex, promotes feelings of closeness to your partner, which could make it easier to forgive them for stealing the covers,” quips Simpson.