Last updated on June 20th, 2017
Committing to a romantic relationship is a big step. Here are some tips to navigate the tricky issues of bed-sharing
It can also be a difficult time, though. Transitions are never easy, and you may learn some things about your partner you never knew before—maybe they never put the toilet seat down or they like to leave their dirty clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper. Or perhaps they snore. Maybe they hog the covers and you’re finding it impossible to get a good night’s sleep now that you’re sharing a bed.
Luckily, there are a few tips you can use to make the transition easier to manage.
Win the war of space
While sleeping in the same bed as your partner has a wide range of advantages, including increased intimacy and relationship satisfaction, there are challenges that you may face. First up is the matter of space.
If you’re used to sleeping alone, you may not be prepared for that extra space to disappear so easily. A queen bed’s sixty-inch width can quickly become thirty or less—especially if your partner likes to spread out. Win the war of space by upgrading whatever mattress you have to the next size up.
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When deciding what size mattress to go with, consider how you might sleep as a couple. If you like to cuddle, you might be able to get away with a queen size mattress, which would allow for more space in your bedroom.
However, a king size mattress is around sixteen inches wider than a queen—about the equivalent of putting two twin beds together. While this size accommodates both you and your partner, it might be too big for your bedroom’s size, and it might not leave much space for other furniture.
Get in sync
Hollywood has probably led most of us to believe that couples just get tired, snuggle up, and say good night like clockwork. The reality is rarely so simple. Your partner might have very different sleep habits than you—ones that could ultimately disrupt your sleep. Decide what will work best for you both, whether that means saying good night at the same time or not.
There are some definite relationship benefits to going to bed together, though. For example, cuddling before bed can help you and your partner feel more relaxed and happier. Couples who go to bed at different times report less marital adjustment, more conflict, less serious conversation, and less intimacy than those who go to bed together.
If you and your partner are on different sleep schedules—maybe you are a night owl and your partner is a morning person, or one of you works a late shift—it can be worthwhile to compromise and go to bed together a few nights a week. This shared bedtime can give you an opportunity to bond without totally sacrificing your sleep quality.
If you do decide to go to bed at different times, consider snuggling for a bit until the early sleeper drifts off into REM. Then, the night owl can slip out, do their thing, and come to bed when they’re tired. This way, you both still benefit from that pre-sleep cuddle.
During your transition, dig a little deeper and find what things, like work stress or emotional concerns, keep you or your partner up at night. While these things used to only leave either of you counting sheep before, they could easily become larger issues if both you and your partner are trying to get a good night’s sleep and not hitting the mark.
Whether it’s a single event on a single night or an upcoming month-long busy schedule that will keep you from sleeping well, share that both parties share that information. They may be able to help you work through things and get the rest you need, and if not, they can at least plan ahead to ensure their own sleep isn’t compromised.
Sleep on it for sure
Like most things in your relationship, transitioning to sleeping with your partner could take some time to grow accustomed to. Give yourself and your partner time to “sleep on it” and get comfortable so you can find what helps you both get a full night’s rest on a regular basis. There’s no right or wrong way to go about this—it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you as a couple.
If all else fails, try sleeping separately
If you and your partner just can’t get into a comfortable routine, it doesn’t necessarily spell doom for your relationship. For an increasing number of couples, sleeping in separate beds—or even completely different rooms—is the solution to their sleep difficulties. If your partner suffers from restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or another condition that also affects your sleep, it might not hurt to give it a try.
If you do go this route, make sure that you find other ways to keep your relationship strong. Those moments you spend together are important for maintaining a connection and getting quality alone time away from the pressures of the day. Set aside time in the morning or evening where you are both alone and can talk about your lives and relationship and be physically and emotionally close.
Transitioning to sharing a bed with your significant other can be tough, but it can also be one of the most worthwhile things you can do for your relationship. These tips should get you off to a great start—and hopefully a great night’s sleep!
About the author
Gabriel Smith is a sleep expert with a resume in collegiate athletics, outdoor recreation, and journalism. He is passionate about the crossroads of physical health and happiness. After living and working in New Mexico, Hawaii, and Brazil, he is a big believer in finding what makes you tick.