Dr Guy Meadows, sleep expert for Bensons for Beds and founder of the Sleep School

Bed time can be hard when you're in a relationship

Bed time can be hard when you're in a relationship

It's rare that you find two people with the same sleeping habits and so sharing a bed can be a difficult and potentially a sleep depriving process. Outlined below are some of the most common challenges faced when bed sharing and suggestions on how to get around them.

Sleep and wake timing - Ideally you want to be going to bed and getting up at the same time as your partner. Unfortunately varying work and life schedules means that this is not always possible and often results in sleep disturbances as you enter and exit the bed at different times. If there is no way of changing the pattern then it's all about being considerate to the sleeping partner. If returning late, avoid turning on all the lights and making lots of noise, opting instead for a stealthy entry into the bed. If leaving early, then prepare your clothes the night before, leaving them in another room so that you can exit the bedroom undetected.

Wind down habits - Many bedtime battles are the result of variations in bedtime routines. Whilst some people like to read a book, others love to watch TV. Compromise is the key and so find a routine that works for both parties. If that doesn't work, it may be a case of using ear plugs and eye masks to block out any unwanted noise and light.

Body temperature - Traditionally women feel the cold more than men, leading to variations in bedding and room temperature requirements. Using multiple blankets rather than a single duvet can help as it allows each person to easily change temperature according to their needs throughout the night.

Larks and Owls - Our genetics influence our sleep timing with some people preferring to go to bed and get up late, so called owls, and others preferring to go to bed early and get up early, so called larks. Naturally such differences in sleep timing can make sharing a bed a real challenge. However, with a little bit of training such genetic tendencies can be reduced. For owls this can be in the form of reducing light and activity levels in the evening and increasing them in the morning. Whereas for larks the opposite is required.

Comfort needs - When it comes to sleep, everyone's comfort needs are different, which poses a problem when sharing a bed. More often than not we end up settling for one mattress that's only right for one partner or choosing one that doesn't work for either, both of which result in disturbed sleep. Thankfully such problems are now a thing of the past; the Adaptive Viscool Mattress from Bensons for Beds allows each sleeper to get the comfort rating of their choice in a single mattress.

Sleeping positions - Sleeping in the best position for you is again another very important aspect of ensuring a good night's rest. For some this can come in the form of being tucked up in the foetal position, whilst for others it means being spread out like a star! Either way, having a big bed ensures that whatever position you adopt you have enough sleeping space.

Sleep disorders - If you or your partner are unlucky enough to suffer from one of the 89 recognised sleep disorders, it's likely to affect both of you. The most common problem is snoring, which affects 40% of the population or more than that if you take into account the disturbance on bed partners. Taking effective action to manage the disorders is the best way to limit the problem. For example, having the snorer sleep on their side and avoiding sedatives such as alcohol and antihistamines (cold and flu remedies) can help to improve airflow and limit snoring.

Night time movement - Sleeping in cycles means that we naturally wake up every 1.5 - 2 hours. Albeit brief and mostly unconscious such awakenings offer an opportunity for us to change position in the night to avoid body pain and go to the toilet. If you're a light sleeper such partner movement can continually disturb sleep and result in excessive daytime tiredness. Investing in mattress technology that doesn't transmit movement is therefore an easy way of controlling this problem and guaranteeing better quality slumber.

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