Solutions for Married Couples With 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 when they would sleep better if they didn't? Usually, the answer is that 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 for Married Couples

Almost one in ten married Americans sleep alone according to a 2017 survey by the Better Sleep Council. Older couples (aged 55 and up) are most likely to have this sleeping arrangement, with 16% reporting that they have separate bedrooms. This compares to just 3% of those aged 18 to 34 who said the same, and 7% of those aged 35 to 54.

This survey also revealed that women may have more trouble sleeping with a partner than men. For instance, it found that women were more sensitive to their partner's tossing and turning (44% of women versus 34% of men were bothered by this action). They were also more likely to be kept awake due to their partner snoring (42% versus 20%).

Common Sleep Problems for Couples

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 numerous factors, including those related to:

  • Environment: Room temperature, sheet texture, degree of quietness in the room, size and firmness of the bed, number of pillows and blankets, having a window open (or not), and sleeping with children or pets
  • Sharing: Who gets which side of the bed, sleep positions, sleep schedules, and cuddling or touching; or if one of the partners tosses and turns a lot, gets up in the middle of the night regularly, goes to bed angry, or has a sleep condition such as insomnia
  • Noise: Teeth grinding, nightmares, sleepwalking, alarms, and snoring

Sleep Positions for Couples

What's a good sleeping position for couples? Fortunately, there are several from which to choose.

Spooning

When you can sleep together, many sleep experts recommend "spooning." This is where you sleep nestled together like spoons, with one partner's back against the other partner's front. One study found that this is the most common position for couples at sleep onset.

Half-Spoon

If spooning isn't comfortable for sleeping together, you can also try a half-spoon. This involves one partner sleeping with their head on the shoulder of the other. The half-spoon enables you to sleep next to each other yet still have a bit of room.

Intertwined

This sleep position involves facing your partner with your legs intertwined and is used by 8% of couples. Sleeping intertwined can help you and your partner feel intimate and close. It provides a way to bond physically at the end of the day.

Back-to-Back

If spooning or intertwining when you sleep together makes it impossible to drift off, another option is to position yourself so you are back-to-back. Sleeping in this way doesn't have to mean that you're angry or have less of a connection. Instead, it can be a sign that you are both comfortable and confident in your relationship.

Opposite Sides of the Bed

This is a good sleeping position for couples who want to share a bed, yet have different sleeping styles. If one person likes a lot of covers and the other doesn't, for instance, you can each sleep the way you want but you're still close enough to know that you're there together.

Sometimes people worry if their spouse is sleeping with their back to them or seems too 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 for married couples.​

Make Compromises When Sharing a Bed

What do you do if you and your spouse 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.

When couples first start sleeping together, they are often willing to sacrifice comfort to be close to their partner. Over time, you might just want to get a good night's sleep again. Separate bedrooms or twin beds can help you achieve this goal, potentially saving your marriage in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What percent of married couples sleep in separate beds?

    Around 9% of married couples sleep in separate bedrooms according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council.

  • Can you share a bed with a newborn?

    While you can, research has found that sharing a bed with an infant is related to increased marital and co-parenting distress. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep alone for their own safety.

  • Is it okay if married couples sleep on different sleep schedules?

    In some cases, sleeping on different schedules may be necessary, such as when working different shifts. However, this type of sleeping arrangement can potentially impact your relationship, decreasing your level of marital satisfaction. Finding other ways to stay connected when you can't be together in bed can help keep your marriage happy.

8 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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