Despite a budding marriage, it could be time you and your partner have a “sleep divorce”.
For the reason you are constantly sleep deprived could be laying right next to you.
Snoring, fidgeting, 3 am bathroom trips and even night terrors are just some of the ways your loved one can keep you up at night.
You’re left struggling through sleep deprivation, day after day.
The impact of sleep deprivation is well documented; a higher risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and even a shorter life.
That’s without factoring in daytime grumpiness, irritability, and suffering relationships.
Is it, therefore, time to lay some boundaries around bedtime with your partner?
How your partner is damaging your sleep
James Wilson, sleep expert and co-founder of Beingwell, explained one of the key reasons partners don’t compliment each other’s sleep.
Research suggests everyone has a set bedtime and waking hour that leaves them feeling rested.
If you are a morning lark, you’re better off going to bed in the early evening and getting up at the crack of dawn. Night owls are most alert in the late evening and feel best waking up in the late morning.
James said people may be forcing themselves to try and sleep at a time that doesn’t suit them if their partner encourages them to go to bed with them.
He said: “Even if you want to go to bed with your partner because it’s intimate and where conversations often happen, it may be putting more stress on you to fall asleep at the same time as them.
“Their partner may be watching TV in bed, might be wanting to game late, in the bedroom. Or they’ll say ‘I’m going to bed now, why aren’t you coming with me?’
“We all have a sleep type – larks and owls. It could be that you and your partner are the complete opposite.
“Often couples go to bed based on what time one person’s natural bedtime is, and that can actually be damaging to the other person.”
“It can leave you wondering why you can’t get to sleep, but it’s not you – it’s that you aren’t in line with your natural rhythm.”
James recommended couples have a “compassionate conversation” about their sleep routines.
It may help to explain to your partner that while you can have downtime together, including in the bedroom, you need to “go to bed” at different times.
Meanwhile, there’s one key habit that many couples are familiar with – snoring.
Snoring can be insufferable to listen to as you lay in bed desperate for some rest.
It’s more common in people who are overweight, smoke, or drink alcohol, and therefore can be helped with simple lifestyle changes.
James previously told The Sun: “If people [are] snoring, particularly if they’ve had spicy food or alcohol, you can take a spoonful of olive oil.”
“It’s anti-inflammatory and that reduces the snoring… For a lot of people it gives your partner enough time to get to sleep before you start snoring.”
Dr. Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation who authored “Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep”, gave some tips for snorers – after all, they are the culprit.
She told CNN: “For example, a snorer can delay their bedtime by a half an hour to an hour.”
“That allows the partner to fall into a deeper stage of sleep and possibly stay that way once the snorer comes to bed.
“If you’re prone to drinking but you know that the consequences are not only going to bad for your sleep, but your partner’s sleep as well, then maybe you’ll be more motivated to cut back a bit.
“For many people snoring tends to be worse when they are flying flat on their backs, so raising the head a little bit can be useful [with additional pillows].
“Some people have had success with over-the-counter nasal strips to keep the airway open.”
Other tips for snoring include sewing a tennis ball into the back of your partner’s pajamas to prevent them from lying on their back.
And these five mouth exercises can help strengthen the muscles in your mouth and throat, as snoring is a result of air passing through relaxed tissues.
It’s the top reason (42 percent) why UK couples are in a period of sleep divorce, according to a survey by bed specialist Time4Sleep,
That’s closely followed by heat (34 percent), tossing and turning (25 percent), space/duvet hogging (14 percent).
To tackle uncomfortable heat whilst you sleep, director Jonathan Warren urged couples to get a mattress that doesn’t worsen the problem.
He said: “Generally speaking, a mattress with a high content of natural fillings such as wool, cotton or bamboo is often a great choice for those suffering to sleep in the heat as they tend to be cooler as well as being naturally hypoallergenic.
“Other options to consider are new generation elite gel memory foam mattresses that include a temperature regulating cool gel that adjusts with your body temperature to ensure you’re never too hot or cold during the night.”
When to call the doctor
Sleep apnoea causes snoring as well as choking or gasping noises.
The condition causes a person to stop and start breathing throughout the night as their airways get blocked.
Other signs include daytime sleepiness, a headache in the morning and difficulty concentrating.
Sleep apnoea can lead to a host of conditions, the NHS warns, including high blood pressure, depression, or a car accident due to tiredness.
The NHS says: “It can be hard to tell if you have sleep apnoea. It may help to ask someone to stay with you while you sleep so they can check for the symptoms.”
Meanwhile, repeated bathroom trips may also be a warning sign of diabetes, an enlarged prostate, or even prostate cancer.
While everyone is different, Dr. Hannah Barham-Brown, a Yorkshire-based medic, told Metro that peeing once or twice a night is fine but – any more and it could signal a problem.
Before moaning at your partner for their irritating sleep habits, consider if it’s worth them seeing a GP to see what treatments are available, and to rule out anything sinister.
Will my relationship suffer if we “sleep divorce”?
Dr. Troxel said: “Sleep deprivation can affect key aspects of relationship functioning, like your mood, your level of frustration, your tolerance, your empathy, and your ability to communicate with your partner and other important people in your life.
Research by her team found that a well-rested person is “a better communicator, happier, more empathic, more attractive and funnier”.
It sure sounds like someone you want to be, and be with.
Dr. Troxel said: “I tell couples to try to think of it not as a filing for sleep divorce, but as forging a sleep alliance.”
“Couples can still make the bedroom a sacred space, even if they choose not to actually sleep together.”
“You can develop pre-bedtime rituals and use that time to actually connect with your partner instead of being independently on a phone or laptop or whatnot.”
She said you don’t have to sleep in separate beds – although this may be an option.
Dr. Troxel said: “The question I always get is, ‘Is it bad if my partner and I sleep apart?’ The answer is no, not necessarily… It can even have some significant upsides.”
“There truly is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ sleeping strategy for every couple.”
“It’s really about finding the strategy that’s going to work best for the two of you.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.