5 Ways to Get More Sleep When Bed Sharing
Somehow, you've managed to survive a hectic day of deadlines, kids' fights and the laundry. At last, it's time to turn in. But just as you drift off, the mattress hog next to you elbows your ribs. You roll him to the other side of the bed, but then his incessant snoring begins. When the alarm rings at 6 a.m., you're tired, and angry at your not-so-better half for keeping you up.
"Sometimes stress or health-related problems keep women awake," says David Rapoport, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at New York University School of Medicine, in New York City. "But for many, the problem is their bed or the person lying next to them." If this sounds familiar, try these simple changes:
- Go to bed together. It may be difficult to hit the sack at the same time, but doing so can mean fewer disruptions during the important moments when your body is trying to enter its most restful sleep stage called slow-wave sleep, says Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., co-author of A Woman's Guide to Sleep (Crown Publishing, 2000).
- Wake up at the same time. You'll be more likely to agree on when to call it a day, says Walsleben. If you can't synchronize your sleep schedules, try to keep extra activity away from the bedroom -- for example, if he's trying to sleep, watch late-night TV in the den rather than in bed or get ready for work in a bathroom down the hall.
- Put an end to snoring. As many as 40 percent of men snore. If your husband's habit keeps you awake at night, make sure he gets a checkup with his doctor -- snoring may be a symptom of a more serious breathing problem known as sleep apnea. (Women may also suffer from the condition.) Urge him not to sleep on his back, which can compress the airways and increase snoring. If your persuasion doesn't work, some simple devices may help. Orthopedic pillows, for example, encourage proper sleeping positions by keeping the neck in line with the spine. Piling too many pillows on the bed, however, can cause neck and shoulder pain.
- Remember that size matters. Couples should sleep on at least a queen-size mattress for free, easy movement. If you're tall or have a tendency to sprawl, you may appreciate the extra space of a king bed. The Better Sleep Council recommends shopping for your mattress together. Don't be afraid to lie right down together and test it out.
- Don't be afraid to sleep alone. Sleeping in separate beds may seem like a marital mistake. Not so, says Walsleben, who often prescribes this for her patients. "It's not a bad thing, as long as you make time for intimacy," she says. "With a good night's sleep, you'll have more energy and less stress, which may make you more loving toward your partner."