3 tips for living with a partner with a different sleep schedule

GAdequate sleep quality is critical to striving to be a healthy, happier, and optimally functioning human being. But as with many important facets of life, achieving this quality and quantity is easier said than done. All sorts of obstacles can stand in the way of you and a dreamy night’s sleep, and that includes having a partner with a different sleep schedule than your own.

Maybe they work nights and you work days, or one of you is a night owl and the other an early riser. Whether you’re on the same sleep cycle page or not, it’s difficult to meet your personal REM needs when your bedfellow is constantly waking you up. So how can you have a healthy, happy relationship with them in the middle of it all? Don’t worry – experts have helpful tips.

3 tips for relationship success with a partner with a different sleep schedule

1. Communicate about your feelings and needs

As with most relationship challenges, the first and perhaps most important step is to simply talk about what’s coming your way. “Give each other permission to be honest about how easy it is for you all to get sound, restful sleep,” says clinical psychologist and sleep medicine specialist Holly Milling, PsychD, founder of Sleep Practice. She suggests thinking about how your sleep is affecting your relationship, whether sleeping separately (at least for some nights) might be a better option, and how changing things up could benefit your own life and the health of your relationship.

“Couples who sleep harmoniously together may report a greater emotional and intimate connection, but when sleep is disrupted by a partner, it can have the opposite effect.” —Holly Milling, PsychD

“While it’s true that couples who sleep harmoniously together can report a greater emotional and intimate connection, when precious sleep is disrupted by a partner, it can have the opposite effect, adding feelings of resentment and all the consequences of sleep deprivation.” of the troubled party,” says Dr. Milling. “The goal is to find out what works best for you and your partner in your current situation.”

2. Prioritize the quality of intimate time outside of bedtime

If you have a partner with a different sleep schedule, or sleep separately for some other reason, you may be missing certain components that come with this area, such as: B. Cuddling. In this case, it can be helpful to spend comfortable time together, even if you don’t sleep at the same time.

“Make time for each other when you have days off,” says Jennifer Kowalski, LPC, singles and relationships counselor. “Eat a meal together, plan dates, and make sure you make each other a priority outside of work and sleep.”

3. Brainstorm ways to address sleep disorders

If you want to keep sleeping with your partner, get creative and come up with other workarounds for your conflicting schedules. “Sleep divorce,” also known as sleeping in different rooms or beds, is an option, but Kowalski “generally recommends it.”[s] Try other lifestyle changes first. For example, Dr. Milling suggests that “if you want to go to bed at different times, you could arrange for the night owl to get ready for bed in a different room to minimize disturbance when they crawl into bed.”

Separate sleeping can be quite helpful

Finally, if lifestyle with your partner who has a different schedule isn’t affecting your sleep quality and you can’t get things done the next day, you and your partner may consider separate bedrooms or sleeping areas. Some signs that might be a good idea, Kowalski says, include poor work performance, inability to stay awake, poor concentration, and problems with caring.

Another sign is resentment. “A single poor night’s sleep can disrupt functioning, but when it happens repeatedly, it changes a person’s mood and begins to damage the relationship, especially if one of them blames the other for how poorly they are,” says Kowalski .

You don’t necessarily have to do this every night either. “Perhaps it makes the most sense to do this during the workweek and share the bedroom on the weekends,” says Kowalski.

Does Poor Sleep Compatibility Mean Poor Physical Compatibility?

Even if you decide to get divorced in your sleep, it doesn’t mean your relationship itself or your sex life will be shot. “The majority of couples I work with who sleep apart have made the best of the situation,” says Kowalski. “They respect each other’s need for sleep and have a clear understanding of the distinction between sexual activity and rest. Some have shared that visiting each other’s rooms is a clear sign that the visitor is initiating sexual activity, which has brought spontaneity back to their relationship.”

And whatever situation you end up choosing works for you and your partner with different sleep schedules, just know that it will is possible to find this workaround. Not being able to sleep well with your partner can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be an ongoing problem or ruin the relationship.

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