What To Do If Your Partner Keeps Waking You Up, According To A Sleep Specialist
Sharing a bed with a partner comes with lots of upsides, like the ability to wake up next to each other and kiss each other goodnight right before you go to sleep. There are less romantic aspects to it as well, though. Being constantly woken up by your partner throughout the night, for one, is not an uncommon problem to have.
"There's a lot of things a partner can do, between movement and sound, that can be disruptive to someone's sleep," W. Christopher Winter, MD, sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Solution, tells Bustle. Someone with restless leg syndrome, for example, might wake their partners up with kicking, or someone with sleep apnea may wake them up with snoring.
And yet, there's hope. "What I tell people is, whatever your issue is with your partner, there's somebody who's been clever enough to figure out the solution," Dr. Winter says. "Don't give up on your mate too early. There's probably something that can help you stay in the same bed with them."
The solution will depend on the source of the problem you're experiencing, but here are some tricks that can allow you to share a bed with a noisy or restless partner without losing too much sleep — or your mind.
1. Get A Bigger Bed
"The size of the bed is important," Dr. Winter says. "A lot of young couples are trying to sleep on a twin or full bed." If you're able to invest in a king or queen, having that extra distance between you can help stop you from waking each other up.
Winter also knows couples who put two twin beds together so that one person's mattress wouldn't transmit motion to the other's. If getting a new mattress is out of the question, at least try to use two separate blankets.
2. Get A Different Kind Of Mattress
Equally important is the material your mattress is made of. "Invest in a mattress that doesn't transmit motion, so if they move around, you're not feeling it in the mattress," Dr. Winter advises.
Memory foam is a good option if you're looking for a material that's less likely to move along with your partner. Pocket coil mattresses are also very sturdy and motion-resistant, he adds.
3. Get A White Noise Machine
If your partner is snoring, sleep-talking, or making other kinds of noise, a white noise machine can help block it out, Dr. Winter says. White noise machines work by creating a soothing sound for your ears to focus on so that they don't notice other noises.
4. Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones
If your partner doesn't like the sound of a white noise machine, you can get headphones that play white noise directly into your ears. Bose and Kokoon make ear buds specific for sleep, and SleepPhones makes a headband with built-in white noise so that it's comfortable to wear to bed. You can also just go with good old-fashioned ear plugs.
5. See A Doctor
"If you feel like you're down to the place where you have to sleep separately and you really don't want to, that would be time to get some sleep help," Dr. Winter says.
A sleep specialist can help your partner figure out if they're suffering from something like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, or myoclonus and treat it appropriately. They may also be able to help you get into a deep sleep so you have an easier time sleeping through their disruptions.
6. Sleep Separately
If making sleeping in the same bed work seems like more effort than it's worth, you can just sleep in separate beds. If you still want to be near each other at night, you could even put two separate beds in the same room.
There's a lot of stigma around couples sleeping separately, but it doesn't have to distance you from each other. It could actually improve your relationship, since you won't be depriving each other of sleep.
Even if you feel like you've tried everything, though, there's probably still more you can try. Don't give up, as better days (and nights) are ahead of you.