Sleep tips

How couples overcome different sleep schedules

Tips for couples who go to sleep at different times

How does your relationship work? Do you love the soothing tunes of Michael Bublé, but your partner is a serious metal fan?

Are you dying to see the next Quentin Tarantino movie, but your loved one can’t stand the sight of blood?

What about your sleep patterns?

Are you a night owl, loving nothing more than a good sleep-in when you get the chance? But your partner puts the alarm on for their daily 5.45 am gym workout and hits the pillow at 9pm?

You know the old saying ‘opposites attract’? But when it comes to sleep patterns, not being ‘in sync’ can really mess-up the quality of your sleep and leave you feeling cranky and tired – not to mention playing havoc with your relationship.

Are your sleep patterns ‘set in stone’?

Going to sleep and waking up together are amongst the most intimate times we share as a couple. Sleeping together reflects the physical and emotional security we feel with our partner.

But changing your habits can be hard. Turns out being an ‘early-to-bed’ sort of person or a ‘night owl’ is built into your DNA. Most people have a natural disposition – known as their chronotype – which influences their sleep/wake behaviour.

To share or not to share (a bed)? – that is the question

Statistics gathered by Sleep Cycle indicate that around 40% of women around the world prefer to sleep alone. A big factor is their partner’s snoring.

It can be a real problem if the partner who goes to sleep first is a snorer. Snoring is more common in men, with over 40% of adult men and 24% of adult women being habitual snorers.

For the person trying to get to sleep, it can be impossible. Snoring can affect their sleep quality and it can lead to serious relationship problems.  

If different sleep routines are causing a problem in your relationship, here are a few ideas on what you can do:

Plan your bedtime

For many couples, planning to go to bed together at least a few times a week, can be comforting. It gives you a chance to talk, cuddle and just ‘be’ together.

When that’s not possible, we recommend for the person going to sleep later, that they wait at least 30 minutes after the early sleeper has retired. This gives your partner a chance to enter a deeper phase of their sleep cycle and they’re less likely to be disturbed. 

Tackle your sleep disturbance issues

If snoring is a real problem or if one partner has insomnia or sleep apnea, maybe it’s time to seek professional help?

Your GP may be able to help, or they can refer you to a sleep specialist to help you overcome your issue.

Try sleeping in different rooms

If different bedtime routines are unavoidable – perhaps one person does night shift – sometimes the only way for both people to get a good night’s sleep is to sleep in separate rooms.

Many people feel uncomfortable with this option because they think ‘less togetherness’ means their relationship means they’re drifting apart. In the end, you need to toss up whether sleep deprivation for one or both partners is better or worse for your relationship than the odd night apart.

Plan for regular ‘together’ time

Most of us are rushing around trying to make a living, managing a household, a social life, our family and our friendships. Things can get a little frantic.  

If you feel like you’re running on different sleep/wake timetables, maybe the best approach is to make up for it by making a plan to spend quality time together.

Consider this time as an investment in your relationship. It could be parking a few hours aside to see a movie, having dinner out or booking in a ½ hour every few days at a local cafe.

By blocking time out in your diary as a ‘togetherness appointment’, it’s more likely to happen.

Could be time to take a holiday?

If you feel like you’re simply not seeing each other enough because of your different schedules, maybe it’s time for a real break? A holiday where you can unwind, relax and enjoy each other’s company is absolutely essential to keep the flames of romance burning. No excuses! If you can’t fit in a couple of weeks off, try a weekend break.