Tips for How To Deal With Incompatible Sleep Habits
Dear April Masini,
My girlfriend and I are constantly arguing in the bedroom. But it's never about sex! We just can never seem to get along when it comes to sleeping. I need to sleep with the window open, but she gets too cold. So then she piles blankets on the bed and tries to turn the heat up. She can only sleep with the television on, and I want the room to be silent. Then she complains that I snore! We get along just fine with everything else in our relationship but this seems to be a huge issue with us. Is our relationship doomed if we aren't compatible in terms of our sleeping patterns? Please give us some sleeping tips that will help keep the peace in our relationship."
Can't Sleep With Her
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Can't Sleep With Her,
Sex is one thing -- but sleeping together -- now THAT'S intimacy. In fact, spending an entire night together in a bed can offer up more conflicts than any sex therapist may see in his or her office.
Here are some common sleeping differences that many people have:
- One person likes more covers than the other.
- One person likes to sleep with the window open.
- One person likes the bathroom light on and the other likes darkness.
- One person likes the shades up so they're woken in the morning by daylight. The other one wants black out shades and an eye mask.
- One person likes to go to sleep with music on. The other needs ear plugs.
- One person sleeps easily, and the other person has insomnia.
- One person tends to snore and the other person is wakened by it – and then can’t go back to sleep.
- One person sleep walks, sleep talks or is an "active" sleeper, and the other one isn't.
- One person likes to fall asleep to the television. The other person is kept awake by the television.
These all sound like small issues, but believe me – when you don’t get your sleep, you can be mighty cranky and unreasonable the next day. And when sleep deprivation is a result of sleep differences in a couple, chronic crankiness and low performance at work as well as depression can result. So making sleep differences work is a very important part of any relationship – just as important as making your sex life work.
Learn how to COMPROMISE.
The solutions are myriad, but the important point to keep in mind is creativity and flexibility when sleeping together. Aside from all the new technologies that help people be together and apart at the same time, there are compromises to be made. If one person likes the window open, the other one can wear pajamas. If one person likes light on, the other one can wear an eye mask. If one person likes to sleep with music softly playing, they can wear earphones to bed. And so on. The most important thing is to try and compromise the same way you do with sex. Not everyone likes the same thing at the same time -- if ever. If you love someone and want to sleep with them for the rest of your life, you have to be prepared to give a little.
Learn to practice FLEXIBILITY.
If one partner has a big day tomorrow, then by all means, allow them their sleep habits and adjust yours. In addition, consider separate bedrooms for sleep -- not sex -- just sleep. Victorian couples had wild sex lives and separate bedrooms because sex and sleep did not make for good bedfellows. Many high-powered people live the same way -- they make their work a priority, and anything that contributes to it, necessary. It doesn't mean that they can't sleep with their partner and have sex with them -- but if they need sleep, and their sleep lives are incompatible, there are worse things than separate bedrooms -- like divorce!
It is rarely one of the character traits listed on an online dating personality profile, and it is hardly ever fodder for conversation on a first or second date. But the truth is that sleeping with the window opened or closed -- as well as how high or low the thermostat gets turned up (or down) during winter and summer weather -- can be if not a deal breaker, a deal bender when it comes to relationships. Traditionally, he's hot and she's cold. This makes sense because women's bodies are normally about five degrees cooler than men's bodies. But it can seem like winter at the North Pole to her, while he's perspiring from the heat of a thermostat set at 68 degrees in the winter.
Here are some tips for climate-compatibly challenged:
- Have your utility company come to your home to do an energy audit. This means they will tell you places in your home where you can make better use of your energy and cure energy losses. This means places in your home where heat is escaping in the winter, and cool air is escaping in the summer. Once you get your home working efficiently, you can better address the inequities in your temperature needs.
- Temporary measures. There are certain things that you can do to make your home temporarily warmer or temporarily cooler. Drapes in a heavy, lined fabric, will insulate a room from cold, and can quickly be drawn to make the room cooler quickly. A fire in the fireplace can warm up a room and can just as easily be put out and the room will cool down. These are great ways for him or her to warm up or cool down a house while they are alone, and then when the partner comes home, they can quickly adjust the temperature of the house by either drawing the drapes or putting on a fire in the fireplace.
- Kitchen tips. Cooking in the oven will heat up the kitchen and the rooms above and adjacent to the kitchen and/or stove. Take out food or food that is prepared in a microwave oven will keep the kitchen and the adjacent rooms cooler.
- Bedding is a great way to even the playing turf when it comes to hot and cold. Layers of bed covers can be removed or added more easily than one down comforter that insures that both people in bed get the same temperature control -- for better or for worse.
- Foods. There are certain foods that will heat you up -- like hot peppers. If you've ever eaten at a great Indian restaurant, you break out in a sweat. Temper your food. Give the cold person the food seasoned with hot peppers, and the hot person the milder food.
- Clothing. If he's hot and she's cold, make sure she has some great cashmere sweaters in her Christmas stash, and keep his clothes on the cotton fabric wavelength. Or give her great cashmere camisoles and sexy, but warm lingerie in velvet to layer -- and if you can heat her up right, you may be able to keep her warm without any clothes on!
And if you just can't get along when you're sleeping, make sure you always keep your relationship hot when you're awake. Check out my book, Romantic Date Ideas, for some fabulous date ideas.