How Do Couples Deal With Different Sleep Schedules?

Medically Reviewed on 3/17/2022
How Do Couples Deal With Different Sleep Schedules
Couples can successfully deal with different sleep schedules if they are willing to communicate and make a few compromises

Different sleep schedules can be difficult, affecting your sleep quality and making you and your partner irritable. However, couples can successfully deal with different sleep schedules if they are willing to communicate and make a few compromises.

Here are tips for avoiding sleep deprivation and relationship issues when you and your partner have incompatible sleep schedules.

4 ways to deal with different sleep schedules as a couple

  1. Be considerate of each other: Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is critical to ensuring that both partners maintain their circadian rhythm. But if your needs, biological clock, and schedules differ, make a conscious effort to be considerate of each other. For example, if your spouse is trying to sleep because they need to get up early for work, turn down the volume of your device or switch rooms when you are watching TV.
  2. Make your bedroom work for both of you: If you like to read before bedtime, consider setting up a chair in the corner of the bedroom so that your partner isn’t disrupted by the light emitted from your device. If noise is an issue, you can try using earplugs or a white noise machine. Vibrating alarm clocks can help an early bird avoid waking up a partner who tends to sleep in a little more. You can also install blackout curtains or soundproof doors to make the bedroom more sleep-friendly for both of you.
  3. Try polyphasic sleep: Polyphasic sleep refers to splitting up your sleep into two segments a day without reducing the overall number of hours of sleep you are getting. Adopting this type of sleep regimen could allow you and your partner to better synchronize your sleep schedules and spend more time together.
  4. Consider sleeping separately: Sleep is important for energy, mental health, and physical health. So if you have tried everything and you and your partner still seem to wake each other up, you may decide that it is worth it to sleep separately in order for each partner to get quality sleep. Plenty of couples find that this is fine as long as you make an effort to spend time together during the day.

How important is it for couples to go to bed at the same time?

Going to bed at the same time can be a great way to create intimacy. Pillow talk, cuddling, and simply looking into each other’s eyes can strengthen your bond.

Sleeping with your partner also stimulates the release of oxytocin in the body, which can elicit feelings of empathy, lower anxiety and blood pressure, and make you feel generally happy or satisfied. This can help improve your overall mental health.

When you and your partner share a bed, it may be easier to address relationship problems or sort out disagreements.

However, sleep is important, and if different sleep schedules are making it impossible for each partner to get quality sleep, you may need to consider other options.

What is sleep divorce?

Sleep divorce is often used as a last resort for couples with different sleep schedules. Put simply, it is an agreement between partners to sleep separately so that both of you can benefit from a good night's sleep. 

While the advantages of sleep divorce are better quality sleep and enhanced mood, disadvantages include potential lost intimacy between partners. Therefore, if you decide to sleep separately, make it a point to communicate and connect with your partner as much as you can throughout the day.

How to stay connected to your partner when sleeping separately

If you and your partner are sleeping separately, here are tips for maintaining a connection throughout the day:

  • Make time to connect in a way that compensates for your lack of physical connection in bed.
  • Try to at least eat one meal together. 
  • Schedule your vacation days together.
  • When you cross paths, make time to kiss or hug.
  • Text, call, or email throughout the day.
  • Set aside 15 minutes each week to communicate in person about problems, issues around the house, parenting challenges, and anything else that needs to be addressed.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/17/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Key AP. Meeting Couples’ Different Sleep Needs. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/coping-with-couples-different-sleep-needs

Randall L, Skopek B. Sleep Patterns and Marital Satisfaction. J Student Res. https://minds.wisconsin.edu/bitstream/handle/1793/77486/Sleep%20patterns.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Troxel WM, Robles TF, Hall M, Buysse DJ. Marital quality and the marital bed: examining the covariation between relationship quality and sleep. Sleep Med Rev. 2007;11(5):389-404. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2644899/