Wellness

How to Share a Bed With a Partner—& Actually Get a Good Night's Sleep

Because you love them, but not their snoring.

October 28, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Next month, I’m moving in with my boyfriend after three years of long distance. I’m elated to make dinners together and eat them in front of the TV; have a buddy to run errands with on Saturdays; and settle into our first little home together. One thing I’m more apprehensive about? Sharing a bed.

We’ll be going from playing house on weekends to sharing my beloved queen bed on work nights, weekends, and naps in between. We’re generally okay sleepers (fine, I’m a blanket hog and I snore), and he gets up early (no biggie), but what works for weekends now needs to work Every. Single. Night.

Why does it feel like many people just don’t talk about the struggles of sleeping next to someone every single night? Sure, in the beginning of a relationship, it’s charming to fall asleep cuddling and wake up still entangled, but beyond the honeymoon stage, you just want to get a good night’s sleep.

Everything that might get overlooked (or maybe even thought of as cute or endearing) has the potential to become problematic, and when sleep is being genuinely affected for either person, the situation compounds. Oh, and sleep deprivation is no joke. Memory loss, paranoia, high blood pressure, mood swings—the effects run the gamut, and none of them are good news.

All that said, there are definite perks to sharing a sleep space with the person you love (falling asleep watching a favorite show together, reaching out to hold a hand in the night, ruffling their bed head come morning)—and, as it turns out, there are ways around the biggest sleep offenders. Read on for ideas to improve your sleep, even if your partner drives you (a little) nuts.

Upgrade Your Bed

Full-sized beds are not made for two people, plain and simple. If you and your partner are still attempting to make it work in a full-sized bed, you should strongly consider an upgrade. Or, if you’re still finding it difficult to not bump up against each other in a queen, it might be time to think about a king bed. It does scream luxury, after all!

Get Separate Blankets

Listen, the idea of separate beds is too much for many of our 2021 brains to handle. So instead of getting different beds entirely (and sleeping in chaste 50’s TV-land bliss), start with separate blankets. My boyfriend has lovingly nicknamed me “the chopper,” because I need to have the blanket between my legs while I sleep, which often ends up yanking the blanket off his unsuspecting back. We can laugh about it, but it’s definitely not my most endearing habit.

Not only am I a “chopper,” he also radiates heat at night, which, given that I like the bedroom to be cold enough to turn a stray hand numb, is not preferable. Bundling myself in my own blanket prevents me from coming into contact with a human heating element in the wee hours of the morning, ensuring I sleep as soundly as possible.

Keep a Spare Bed (or Couch) Set Up

This one might not really be feasible if you’re living in a one-bed, but I’ve heard from several people that they keep the guest bedroom or their couch ready should they need to escape and get a good night’s sleep on their own. If you’re down a guest room but up a couch, I absolutely adore this sleep set from Burrow, that fits over their couches specifically but can definitely fit on multiple other brands. It comes with a pillow, blanket, a wee fitted sheet, a memory foam topper, and even an eye mask.

Burrow Nomad Sleep Kit Photo by Burrow

Invest in Quality Bedding

This one might not scream “how to sleep next to someone,” but if we’re starting with getting a good night’s sleep in general: quality bedding is key. Especially if we’re talking about a partner that runs hot or if you tend to run hot at night, investing in cool, crisp percale or breathable linen will make a huge difference in overall comfort. Bedding that contains polyester is guaranteed to lock heat in and make you and your partner sweaty.

Percale Bedding by Brooklinen Photo by Brooklinen

Consider Different Bedtimes

Just as you may have different wake-up times, you may also abide by different sleep times. It might seem sad not to shuffle off to bed together, but if you fall asleep at 9 p.m. and your partner doesn’t stop tossing and turning until midnight, you might consider staggering your bedtimes. This will help too if you’re the one who lays awake longer than the other, staring at your phone and feeling the bed around you get hot with your own body temperature.

And speaking of wake up times, it can be infuriating to get woken up by someone else’s crack-of-dawn alarm if you’re able to sleep in—especially if you have a hard time falling back asleep. Instead of setting a phone alarm that blares until everyone in the house is awake, look into a vibrating wrist watch that only wakes the person wearing it.

Try a Body Pillow

Beyond just separate blankets, there’s something to be said for creating a physical barrier between yourself and your partner, and it’s not as aggressive as it sounds. Putting a body pillow between the two of you (if you’ve got room on the bed!) means you can still sleep together, but the chance of a kicking foot or sweaty arm reaching into personal space is greatly reduced.

Earplugs In, Mask On

When all else fails, you’ve gotta break out the tried-and-true methods. Standard-issue ear plugs certainly work, but these noise-cancelling sleep buds are even better, because they play the relaxing sounds of your choice while also keeping the snoring (or TV habit) of your partner out. Eye masks are a classic, too, and once you get used to one, you won’t even notice it’s on. I personally love a silk eye mask (they’re buttery-smooth, and I can barely feel them on my face), which is perfect for blocking the light of a TV or reading lamp.

Bose Sleepbuds Photo by Bose

Do you have any go-to tips for sleeping next to a partner? Please (pretty please) share them below!

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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.

15 Comments

wordsmith November 4, 2021
We have a cal king bed that we turn 90 degrees making it extra long. This is a great solution if neither partner is particularly tall. And we also use separate comforters.

I’ve also pondered the idea or upswing two twin or full beds but pushing them together to appear as a single bed. Reason being I like my flat sheet tucked tight on all sides but my partner likes a loose cover.
 
JenGirlCooks November 2, 2021
Having separate sheets and/or comforters is more common that previously thought. I'm glad to see there is less of a taboo or eyebrow raise when mentioned. I say if sharing works for you, then awesome. If not I discovered creating a good sleeping environment is more crucial to my wellbeing than being in fashion.

Of course choosing the right style and size will vary by person. I like full, slightly dense/heavy and cozy bedding sleeping on side or stomach. I bunch it up through the night. My husband prefers to sleep cool, pillow over his head side or back sleeping.
The tricky part is buying right items. Sometimes having multiple top sheets, blankets and duvets gets too bulky. We've got cool and warm season queen sets and will rotate with smaller twin top sheets or blankets as necessary. Purchasing separate pieces works.
To answer about making the bed: I smooth out two top sheets and each cover per side. When I want matching or uniform decor (ex: company is over) the heavier duvet goes on top of the lighter comforter/blanket.
 
Janet M. November 1, 2021
My first suggestion is to make sure there's no tv in the bedroom. For many years it wasn't an option for us, but when we retired a couple of decades ago, there was space--what a giant mistake! DH has a terrible sleep schedule--like none--and is likely to turn on the tv any time of night. I usually wear ear plugs, but they don't help much if he wants to start talking. There are other issues, too. My suggestions after 60 years of marriage--buy the biggest bed that will fit your space, have your own special blanket, and another place you can escape to. My blanket doesn't get made up on the bed, but folded and left on a chair until I go to bed. Two duvets might be a good solution, so thanks to Fran L for that suggestion. I strongly believe that sleeping together is important to a relationship, but my guest room is sometimes the only alternative for enough rest to start the next day. I never begin there, but a couple of times a month use it as a retreat in the middle of the night.
 
Beverly November 1, 2021
Would appreciate a little more info on the two-cover solution. I’m a stickler for making the bed in the morning, so how do you deal with the two comforters/blankets? Smooth them out and put them under the top bed cover? Pull them out and fold at the foot of the bed on top of the bed cover? Twin-size seems like there would be excessive material all around. Does anyone make smaller ones for this purpose?
 
Beverly November 2, 2021
Found this helpful and amusingly written article about this exact issue: https://www.scandinaviastandard.com/two-duvets-in-scandinavia/
 
Rachel October 31, 2021
Thank you for sharing this!
 
Author Comment
Caroline M. November 3, 2021
Absolutely!
 
jennyr October 31, 2021
The link to the sleep mask isn’t working. Can you please tell me what it is?
 
Author Comment
Caroline M. November 3, 2021
Apologies! I updated to include the right link!
 
jennyr November 4, 2021
Got it! Thanks!
 
Deb V. November 5, 2021
The link for ear buds is still not working…. Help!!! My partner snores 😟
 
Ruth October 28, 2021
Huh. We have a double bed and it has worked for 20+ years. I do find that an extra pillow for me is key, as well as silicon earplugs for when the snoring starts. I also get up super early, and husband stays up late, so we each get our me-time.
 
Author Comment
Caroline M. November 3, 2021
You're the luckiest! We have a similar sleep routine, I stay up late and sleep in, he goes to bed early and wakes up early.
 
Fran L. October 28, 2021
All over Northern Europe, it's common to share a bed, but two duvet's. I got tired of my husband burrito rolling the single cover so we now have two twin duvet's on a king bed. Just fluff and fold in half in the morning. Never slept so well
 
Author Comment
Caroline M. November 3, 2021
Lol! I'm the burrito roller in our home!