Sleep incompatibilities can lead to marital strain
Whether it's snoring, sleep apnea or disruptive sleep schedules, sleep incompatibilities can create marital conflict. In a survey a few years ago, the National Sleep Foundation discovered that one in four American couples sleep in separate beds due to interference with sleep, and according to Dr. Volpi, snoring is one of the top three reasons for divorce in the US.
Partner sleeping tips
Before you and your husband give up on nighttime marital bliss together, commit to improving your current sleeping habits.
Reclaim the bed for its
intended purposes: Sleep and sex
Are you guilty of cuddling up with your laptop to Facebook the evening away? Does your husband zonk out watching the sports channel on the bedroom TV? Chances are you both are using the bedroom for more than sleep and lovemaking. Dr. Volpi says, "It's imperative that couples avoid eating, watching TV or using electronics in bed. It's been scientifically proven that the light from TV and computer screens affects melatonin production and throws off circadian rhythms. Plus, working in bed won't help couples wind down and ease into sleep."
Maintain a consistent
You're in bed early and up before dawn to hit the 5 a.m. spin class. Your hubby goes to sleep after the evening news and doesn't want to open his eyes until the sun is up. It's no wonder you're both suffering from sleep deprivation. "Going to bed and waking up at different times every day is a sleep destroyer, and is easy to do when couples have different work or social schedules," states Dr. Volpi. "In order to practice good sleep hygiene, couples should get into a pattern of going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day, including weekends."
Work on snore reduction
According to Dr. Volpi, snoring affects more than 75 million Americans, and is a main reason couples have trouble sleeping together. "For some people, an increased amount of airway obstruction occurs when they sleep on their backs; this is known as positional snoring," explains the sleep expert. "Many times snorers come to me complaining of being 'frequently assaulted' through the night by their bed partner in an effort to get them to roll over."
- Airway obstruction can be reduced or eliminated if the snoring partner sleeps on his side.
- Sew a ball into the pocket of a T-shirt that is worn backward during sleep to keep the snorer off of his back.
- Some positional snorers also improve when the head of the bed is elevated, so sleeping with an extra pillow often helps.
Create a relaxing bedtime
ritual to sync sleep schedules
Wouldn't you love to wind down for the evening by taking a warm bath together or doing another relaxing activity? "When your body gets used to a nighttime routine, the brain is tricked into knowing that it's ready for bed, and naturally calms the body," Dr. Volpi says. A study in Sleep, the journal of the American Sleep Disorders Association, suggests taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime. "The hot water raises body temperature, and cool air in the bedroom lowers skin temperature, which triggers your body to produce melatonin and become drowsy," the doctor says.
Avoid sleep medications
and alcohol before bedtime
Those alluring sleep medication commercials may have you convinced that prescription drugs are the only sleep solution for you, but consider that a recent study in the British Medical Journal indicates people who take sleep medications are at a four-fold increase risk of death compared to people who don't take sleep medications. Dr. Volpi warns against relying on sleep medications or alcohol as sleep aids. "Even if you think they'll help you fall asleep initially, alcohol and medicines that make you drowsy can affect your sleep throughout the night," he explains. "Alcohol and sedatives also cause the throat and tongue muscles to relax even further than usual, exacerbating snoring."
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