7 Strategies to Sleep Better if You Share a Bed, Straight From Sleep Experts

From loud snoring to thermostat battles, here's how to put your most disruptive partner sleep issues to bed.


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Sharing a bed with a loved one is perhaps one of the most intimate things you can do. Yet while there are health benefits to slumbering with a bed partner, it doesn’t come without some issues, especially if your sleep styles don’t sync.

So does this mean you’ll need to slumber apart (a.k.a. file for a sleep divorce)? Not necessarily—there are a few strategies you can (both) try to improve your shared sleep experience, no matter what the problem is.

Sleeping With a Partner Has Healthy Benefits

Sleeping with a loved one comes with numerous benefits. Some of the main ones include decreased anxiety, improved insomnia, and increased relationship connection, says Nilong Vyas, M.D., board-certified pediatric sleep coach, founder of Sleepless in NOLA, a family consulting service. and medical reviewer for SleepFoundation.orgOne study published in Frontiers Psychiatry journal even found that sharing a bed was associated with roughly 10 percent more REM sleep, less fragmented sleep, compared to sleeping individually.

Plus, when you sleep with someone you love, oxytocin, the hormone of love, is released in your body. “As a result, sleep can be more consolidated and everyone wakes up more refreshed,” says Allison Brager, Ph.D., neurobiologist with expertise in sleep and circadian rhythms and a member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s CWC Scientific Advisory Board. 

Of course, this isn’t always the case—especially if your partner is disrupting your sleep, a common issue among people who share a bed. There are numerous reasons for this, the primary being that your partner has major sleep issues of their own, like insomnia, sleep apnea, or periodic limb movements, Brager says. Other reasons include sleep schedules not being in sync and pets or kids also sleeping in the bed.

Solutions for Better Sleep if Your Share a Bed

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Set rules.

“Differences in a partner’s sleep habits can be overcome if specific rules are followed, such as turning off the TV once it’s sleep time and not having distracting sounds in the bedroom,” Dr. Vyas says. If you have pets or children, you also need to come to an agreement about whether they’re allowed in bed or not. “Having a child in the bed can diminish the benefits of sleeping with a partner and sometimes even hurt the relationship, especially if one parent isn’t on board with having a child in bed.”

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Unwind together.

Following a shared pre-bed ritual can ensure that you’ll both be on track for restful sleep. For starters, start getting ready for bed about an hour before you plan to crawl under the sheets. Kill the television at this time. Thirty minutes before bed, dim the house lights and turn off all phones. You might even consider taking a shower together, which can be relaxing in many ways, Brager says. Finish by making sure the room is dark, quiet, and cool.

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Resolve issues before bed.

You’ve probably heard you shouldn’t go to bed mad at each other, and it’s true. “When partners are stressed after a fight and still in the fight or flight mode, hormones in the body aren’t conducive to sleep,” Dr. Vyas explains. If possible, address any grievances as best as you can before you head to bed.

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Plan proactively around your sleep schedules.

Whenever you have changes in your schedule like having to get up earlier or staying up later, communicate that to your partner, Brager says. At the same time, use night lights—preferably with motion sensors—so there’s no need to turn on disruptive overhead lights. If this is happening frequently, invest in a mattress that doesn’t move too much when one partner gets in and out of bed, Dr. Vyas recommends.

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Control your bed temperature.

Does one of you run hot and prefer a colder climate, while the other gets freezing at night and needs the room a little warmer? If so, look into bed toppers with cooling and heating properties that can be individually controlled. You can also place a fan or portable air conditioning unit near the hotter sleeper or even use separate comforters so temperature shifts can be managed individually, Dr. Vyas says.

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Sleep under separate comforters.

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you know that beds there are designed for each person to have his or her own sheets and duvet (the beds are often pushed together). Trying this same strategy at home may be a game-changer if one of you is a sheet hog, which is how Dr. Vyas manages this issue with her husband. Also known as the Scandinavian sleep method for its popularity in Scandinavian countries, this practical sleep solution allows you to compromise and use the weight and style of comforter most suited to your comfort levels, body temperatures, and sleep needs—without having to sleep in separate rooms or wage a nightly war over the thermostat.

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Address snoring issues.

Snoring is one of the most common complaints among partners who sleep together. If your partner snores, you can use ear plugs or a white noise machine to drown out the sound. A few more examples of lifestyle tweaks you (or they) can try to make before seeing a professional include avoiding alcohol, getting dust mite covers for pillows and comforters, trying side sleeping instead of back sleeping, or wearing a nasal strip, like Breathe Right, to open up nasal passages.

But if the snoring is serious, you should also encourage them to get evaluated for sleep apnea, which isn’t just a noisy inconvenience, but a health issue they should address sooner rather than later (for both of your sakes).

What if they’re not willing to take that step, Brager suggests it  might be time to sleep in another room entirely in order to get the proper sleep you both need for overall health and well-being. “Perhaps it will convince him or her to get a sleep study and manage their sleep disorder,” she adds.

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