Sleeping together may ignite the wrong flame
Realstock/ShutterstockFighting with your spouse can cause you both to lose sleep, but losing sleep can also cause you to fight with your spouse. This chicken-egg conundrum has serious health implications for couples, especially if sleepless nights are more than a rare occurrence.
In a new study at The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, researchers acquired blood samples from 43 couples, both before, and after, they had a fight, on two separate occasions. The couples supplied information about topics known to generate spats in their household, as well as their recent sleep history. Researchers instructed each couple to discuss the contentious topic, and to then supply a blood sample. Findings indicated that couples who fought after not getting enough sleep had measurably higher levels of stress-related inflammation. (Check out these six ways to relieve that inflammation.) This type of physiological response puts both partners at a heightened risk for many diseases, and it’s a long list, which includes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis.
While losing one night’s sleep is no big deal, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, senior author and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, emphasizes that sleep loss becomes dangerous over extended periods of time. “If couples don’t find ways to effectively address their differences, having continuously elevated levels of inflammation could put them at higher risk for health problems,” she says. While the study didn’t address the value of sleeping apart, it could allow couples to simmer down, according to this advice from marriage counselors. This will allow cooler heads to prevail come morning, they say. That’s especially true if you happen to be fighting about how the other person is keeping your from sleeping soundly.
Similar sleep patterns can make things worse
Dean Drobot/ShutterstockIt’s not just marital spats which cause insomnia. If one of you has trouble sleeping for any reason, both of you may experience negative consequences. “Part of the issue in a marriage is that sleep patterns often track together. If one person is restless, or has chronic problems, that can impact the other’s sleep,” says explains Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser. “If these problems persist over time, you can get this nasty reverberation within the couple.”
If you’re concerned that not sharing a bed represents doom and gloom for your marriage, don’t panic. Married couples can be too close—here’s what you need to know about the science of a happy marriage. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly one in four married couples sleep in separate beds.
The snoring is driving you nuts
Africa Studio/ShutterstockSnoring is a common complaint, and one of the main reasons why partners storm out of their bedroom, in the middle of the night. According to the Mayo Clinic, around half of all adults snore. If your or your spouse’s snoring stems from another sore point—such as drinking to excess—it may spark fights in addition to the need for earplugs. Snoring can represent a health-related issue, such as allergies, nasal problems, apnea, or a weight gain. It can also be the result of alcohol abuse, or late-night drinking. Sleep deprivation can also bring on snoring. If one (or both) of you are chronic snorers, you should talk to your doctor about the underlying cause, or try these home remedies. You should also consider starting out your night in separate bedrooms, rather than having to make the excursion to the couch—yours or someone else’s—at 3:00 a.m.
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You can only fall asleep to 90s television re-runs (not that there’s anything wrong with that)
MIA Studio/ShutterstockSeinfeld homages aside, if your sleeping habits don’t mesh with your spouse’s, everyone’s going to suffer. Sleep hygiene routines vary: One person may need white noise, and the other, complete silence. One spouse might covet the breeze from an open window, while the other, the whir of an air conditioner. Sleep experts typically extoll the virtue of good nighttime habits, such as turning off electronic screens and keeping the room dark, but many people genuinely sleep better if they drift off while watching TV or listening to music. That’s fine, unless the person trying to sleep next to can’t bear the habit. A better fix might be a kiss goodnight, and separate rooms.
Your schedules clash
wavebreakmedia/ShutterstockIf you’ve ever been woken up out of a blissful sleep by the surprising jolt of a groaning mattress, you may have a partner who works the night shift. Lots of couples have differing work schedules which affect their sleeping times, and patterns. Other couples simply have differing circadian rhythms, which just don’t jive. It you’re a night owl who never makes it into bed before 1:00 a.m., but the love of your life enjoys rising with the sun, sleeping in separate beds may be a great way to preserve harmony 24/7.
Your honey is too hot
Pressmaster/ShutterstockAccording to experts at the National Sleep Foundation, sleeping cool can ward off waking. The ideal sleeping temperature for your bedroom is in the 60-to-67 degrees, Fahrenheit, range, but that number doesn’t take into account the heat two bodies can give off under the covers. Some people generate so much heat during sleep, that their partner winds up soaked with sweat. If the love of your life rivals a Duraflame log with the heat output, separate beds can be an easy way to go.
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Getting enough sleep will keep you both on your diets
Alena-Haurylik/ShutterstockIf one, or both of you are struggling to lose a few pounds, insomnia may be one of the reasons you’re doing battle with the scale. Several studies link getting too little sleep with weight gain. Not getting your beauty rest can impact appetite hormones like ghrelin and leptin. If the two of you dream about achieving svelter forms, you may be better off dreaming in separate beds. Here are eight additional connections between diet and sleep.
You’re both the Goldilocks of mattresses
Ilkin-Guliyev/ShutterstockYou like it firm, she likes it soft—getting your mattress just right might be an impossibility. (By the way, here are seven signs it’s time for a new mattress.) According to the Better Sleep Council, the type of mattress you sleep on has a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Unfortunately, there’s not any one-size-fits-all, perfect mattress option. If you can’t decide on a mattress that fits the bill for both of you, the one who lost the argument is going to wake up achy, cranky, and unrested. Not so great, especially on the morning of that important presentation, or job interview. A great reason to choose separate beds, is that you get to choose separate mattresses, too. (Not to mention pillows).
One of you is a blanket bandit
Anna Kolosiuk/ShutterstockIf the notches on your bedpost represent the number of blankets you’ve stolen from your spouse, co-sleeping may mean shivery nights of restless sleep for him or her. While it’s true that a cool room is better for sleep quality, stealing the blankets off of your wife or husband may leave them too cold, which brings on fitful sleep, and bouts of wakefulness, as reported in Time. If you’re an unrequited blanket stealer whose only alibi is, “I was asleep,” it’s off to separate-bed jail for you.
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Your fur baby was there first
Anna Hoychuk/ShutterstockThe new guy may have learned to love your Pekinese, but he can’t help it if Fluffy makes him sneeze. Lots of married couples enter into their human union with a valued pet in tow. If one of you can’t stand the added bed-presence of a dog or cat, let alone the sneezing which might accompany this co-sleeping arrangement if allergies are part of the picture, your options are slim: Pet trainer or another bed.
One of you has restless leg syndrome
sirtravelalot/ShutterstockAlso known as Willis Ekbom Disease, RLS affects around 10 percent of the population. It causes the desire for constant movement of the legs, but usually includes an early-morning grace period, when people with the disorder can get some much-needed rest. If you or your spouse is dealing with RLS, you’ll want to look into treatments that can help, like trying to maintain a regular sleep pattern, and eliminating alcohol, and cigarettes. Sleeping in separate beds will help both of you get the rest you need.
But what about, you know…sex?
Kamil Macniak/ShutterstockLots of married couples fear that sleeping solo will adversely affect their sex lives, but those who are already happily ensconced in their own beds typically say it ain’t so. The desire for sex represents a very different drive than the desire for sleep does. If you’re sleep-deprived, due to your partner’s habits, the last thing you’re going to want to do is have sex with them. If you’re well rested, it’s a lot easier to find the time to connect in a loving way—plus, you’ll have eliminated some of the annoyance baggage you may be carrying around. Sleeping in separate beds, or even bedrooms, can create the sexual tension that so tantalized you both back in the day. Can you just picture him getting all dressed up (in black satin PJs, or a cool suit), nabbing a bouquet of flowers, and knocking on your bedroom door for a date? What about surprising him at dawn with a cup of espresso and a cup of you? Sleep deprivation is a sex drive killer. Get a good night’s sleep in your own bed, and just watch what happens.
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