How to Share a Bed and Still Get Enough Sleep

Moving in with your partner for the first time, or sleeping over at their place can be exciting. You want to share your life with this person, so sharing a bed can make you feel closer to them, and waking up together can instantly put a smile on your face.

The trouble is, sleeping with a partner can leave you vulnerable to a host of sleep disturbances, which can ultimately make it harder for you to get to sleep or stay asleep. In fact, 67 percent of Americans report tossing and turning, with another 47 percent citing snoring as a problem, and 42 percent have to deal with stealing or hogging the blankets.

So what can you do to share a bed with your partner, but still get enough sleep at night?

Changing What You Can Control

First, work on changing the factors that you can control.

For example:

  • Invest in the right bed, sheets, and blankets. The type of bedding you have can impact the quality of your sleep, with 93 percent of Americans claiming the type of mattress they have is important to their sleep. Investing in a bigger mattress can give you and your partner more room, and the right sheets and blankets can make you more comfortable, minimizing the problems that could arise from sleeping with a partner.
  • Come to an agreement on temperature, light, and noise. Most people sleep best when the temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees F, but everyone has a different preference. Some people sleep best in total darkness, while others prefer a night light. Some prefer total silence, while others like a bit of white noise. You’ll need to decide how to structure your sleeping environment—preferably before you spend your first night together.
  • Manage bathroom disturbances. Getting up to use the bathroom is one of the most common reasons for a middle-of-the-night disturbance. While you can’t always control this, you can mitigate the risks here by using the bathroom before bed and limiting the amount of fluids you intake in the hour or so before sleep.
  • Consider nasal strips for snoring. If you or your partner snores, consider trying nasal strips, which open the nasal passages and allow more comfortable, quiet breathing throughout the night. Evidence suggests these are effective for some types of snoring, but may not do much for obstructive sleep apnea-related snoring.
  • Compromise on cuddling. Some people sleep best when cuddling with another person, while others can only sleep if they have their personal space. You’ll need to come to an agreement about how you’re going to cuddle, for how long, and if you’ll need to make other compromises related to this physical entanglement.

Managing What You Can’t Control

However, there may be some factors beyond your control.

For example:

  • Use meditation or relaxation techniques to make sleep easier. If you suffer extra stress or anxiety because you’re sleeping with a partner, consider using meditation or relaxation techniques to calm your mind before sleep. You can’t make the situation inherently less anxiety-inducing, but you can manage that anxiety with the right mental techniques.
  • Create a secondary sleeping space. It’s not a bad idea to set up a secondary sleeping space, such as a futon in your spare bedroom, or a comfy spot on the couch. That way, if one of you finds themselves unable to sleep throughout the night, they can move to a separate space. It may not be the ideal setup, but it’s preferable to both of you missing out on a good night’s sleep.
  • Cope with conflicting schedules. In an ideal world, you and your partner would be able to adjust your schedules to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Unfortunately, this isn’t a possibility for most of us. Find a way to cope with this problem, such as using vibrating alarms instead of noisy ones, or finding ways to come to bed silently, without disturbing your partner.

Communication and Patience

The keys to making steady, long-term improvements are maintaining a healthy line of communication, and remaining patient throughout the process.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about your sleep needs, and how their habits may be affecting your sleep; if you decide to internalize these negative feelings, you could end up resenting them. Together, you may be able to come up with more innovative solutions to help you both sleep better.

As for patience, you need to remember that any new sleep routine is going to require an adjustment. It may be weeks, or even months before you start getting used to sleeping with a partner. Take things slow and try not to lose hope if things are difficult early on.