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.
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.
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.