Solutions for Married Couple Sleep Problems

Couple sleeping in bed, embracing

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Many marriage experts believe that peaceful sleeping together can keep a marriage healthy. Why do people share a bed with a spouse if they would sleep better if they didn't? Usually, the answer is because even if you don't get the best night's sleep, you find comfort and emotional intimacy in sleeping together.

If you can't sleep well with your spouse, you are not alone. Many married couples have problems sharing a bed. If you are having difficulty getting a good night's sleep because of your spouse's sleeping habits, finding a solution is essential.

Sleeping Together Statistics

According to a 2001 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, more than one in ten (12%) married Americans sleep alone. Additionally, lower marital satisfaction impacts sleep habits, according to the poll. Almost half of those with less marital satisfaction say they sleep less today than five years ago. They are also more likely to experience a sleep problem than their more happily married counterparts.

To no one's surprise, the poll also showed that there were more sleep problems in households with children. Married people with children average less sleep during the week than those without children (6.7 hours vs. 7.2 hours per night).

About 12% of married adults with children report that they typically sleep with a child, and of these, 81% report sleep problems.

Common Sleep Problems

Many situations can create sleep problems for couples. Since sleep preferences are individualized, it can be tough to share this space and time. Couples can disagree about or have different preferences for many factors, including:

  • Environment: Room temperature, sheet texture, degree of quietness in the room, size and firmness of bed, number of pillows and blankets, having a window open, sleeping with children or pets
  • Sharing: Who gets which side of the bed, sleep positions, sleep schedules, cuddling or touching, tossing and turning, getting up in the middle of the night, going to bed angry, insomnia
  • Noise: Teeth grinding, nightmares, sleepwalking, alarms, snoring

Sleep Positions

When you can sleep together, many sleep experts recommend "spooning." This is the sleeping position where people sleep nestled together like spoons. This sleeping position is believed to increase intimacy and lower stress.

But if you or your spouse doesn't care for this position, that's okay. Sometimes people worry because their spouse is sleeping with their back to them or seems to be far away in the bed. Don't jump to conclusions. Although sleep positions can be a red flag in a marriage, experts say there are no "good" or "bad" sleep positions in a marriage.​

Make Compromises

So, what do you do if you have different sleep preferences? Find ways to compromise about things like bedding, room temperature, and white noise. If that doesn't work, be realistic and consider separate bedrooms or twin beds.

Separate bedrooms or twin beds can save your marriage. When couples first start sleeping together, they are willing to sacrifice comfort to be close to their partner. After about five years or so, many people just want to have a good night's sleep again.

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3 Sources
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  2. National Sleep Foundation. 2001 “Sleep in America” Poll. 2001.

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