My husband prevents me from sleeping. Help!
June 29, 2010 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Help me get a better night's sleep sharing a bed with my husband.

My husband and I have been happily married for 13 years. But, I am still having problems sharing a bed - even after all these years. I've always been a light sleeper. I like it cool. I like it dark. I like lots of space. And, it must be quiet.

My husband falls asleep and stays asleep easily, snores, puts off a lot of heat and loves to snuggle. There are nights I spend in bed, wide awake, his arm and leg tossed over me, with him snorting in my face. Sometimes, I want to cry because I just can't sleep.

I've talked to him about giving me a little more space to sleep, but he acts hurt my the notion that "I don't want to be close to him in bed". He says he sleeps better when he can feel me next to him. We've also medically addressed the snoring, but unfortunately he has some issues that just can't be easily addressed (won't go into details). But in short, he does not have sleep apnea and those Breath Right strips *do not* work for him.

We have a very comfortable mattress (queen size - our room is not large enough for a king) and fabulous sheets. I go to bed about an hour before him to try and get a jump start on falling asleep before he comes to bed.

I sleep great when he's away on business travel, so I'm pretty sure this is just a bed-sharing issue. It's also not a relationship issue. I love my husband and enjoy being close and affectionate - just not when I am trying to sleep.

I'm so tired. I need sleep. Help!
posted by MorningPerson to Health & Fitness (69 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
You've got an issue which is majorly interfering with your life which involves your husband.

Sounds like you're a good candidate for marital counseling.
posted by valkyryn at 6:27 AM on June 29, 2010


I'm like you, need it cool, dark, spacious and quiet.

My problem is the pug that she had before we met, who sleeps on the bed, and who likes to be between us up by my our heads. That dog is louder than an entire ward of snorers, man...it's unbelievable that something the size of a pot roast can make enough noise to keep my up in another room.

First, earplugs. I don't really like wearing them, but if you get good ones and you learn to put them in exactly right, you can't hear ANYTHING. I get worried sometimes that while I'm in silent bliss, somebody's like hustling my washer and drier out the front door and I can't hear a thing.

Second, you should really assert yourself about getting some room. In my case, the wife was all "I've known [the pug] longer than I've known you." It took a year or so of her having me toss, turn and sigh all night and looking totally exhausted in the morning (there were many nights I literally got an hour's sleep or less), and then she would at least make the pug sleep on the side opposite me, and not up high near our heads.

Just be gentle about it....put it to him this way "I love you, and I want to be near you too, but it keeps me awake all night. Would you rather me be this tired all the time just so you can snuggle?"

Also, I'm a snuggler myself, but run hot, so most nights we just sleep with our feet touching, or just a hand.

On top of all that, I've dealt with insomnia my whole life, so I understand where you're at. Good luck!
posted by nevercalm at 6:28 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to ask the obvious question: Why don't you just not share a bed? There is no law that says married couples have to share a sleeping space.
posted by unannihilated at 6:28 AM on June 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh geez... you're really going to go there, valkyryn - after I specifically said the relationship is not the issue? We don't need marital counseling. We just have very different sleep habits and I need some ideas on how I might be able to get a better night's sleep.
posted by MorningPerson at 6:30 AM on June 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


Your husband is being selfish. You need your own bed in a different room of your house/apt so that you can get a full night of rest. If he would rather watch you suffer through 13 years of poor sleep just so he can sleep better, I think you have every right to ignore his opinion on this issue at this point. Try sleeping in another room for the next 13 years; then you can go back to sharing a bed if you like.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:32 AM on June 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


1) Try earplugs.

2) Either your husband needs to be more understanding or you may need to try sleeping somewhere else like the couch or another bedroom. He needs to understand this is not about you being emotionally cold but about your physical comfort and sleep quality. When you're awake late at night and you want to cry because he's draped over you snoring in his face, wake him up and let him know. Give him a really nice snuggle when he gets in bed. Snuggle him a little if you wake up for some reason in the middle of the night. Other than that, just be a hardass about your sleeping needs and keep talking to him to explain the problem. On night when it's godawful, move to the couch.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:33 AM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well you said that your husband "acts hurt my the notion that "I don't want to be close to him in bed"" and that sometimes you want to "cry because I just can't sleep." If your husband seriously can't see that your being able to get a good night's sleep gets priority over his snuggling, then maybe a spot of marriage counseling is in order?
posted by peacheater at 6:34 AM on June 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


but he acts hurt my the notion that "I don't want to be close to him in bed".

This implies he doesn't take your sleep seriously. I am not saying you need counseling, but he should wrap his head around how much you are suffering, don't you think? I think that is only equitable.

If you aren't interested in separate beds, perhaps get him a body pillow. Then he can snuggle with pillow. Plus it might create an extra barrier between the two of you.

If you get the right type of ear plugs, you will be able to wear them when you sleep. It might take a few days to get used to them, so don't give up.
posted by Silvertree at 6:39 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know exactly, exactly how you feel. I could have written this question myself, down to my problems and my husband's reaction. For us, getting a bigger bed helped a lot (a queen size, like yours), but my dream solution is to have two beds, pushed together (like in a European hotel). That way, he can't sleep in the center (it's quite uncomfortable, i've learned), i'll feel as if i have my own space, but we'll still be sleeping in the same bed for all intents and purposes, making him happy.
posted by ukdanae at 6:40 AM on June 29, 2010


I am the other side of this equation. I have sleep apnea and move around at night. We have been married in the same bed for 20 years. It has not been easy on my wife.
Try ear plugs
Try a fan in the room for cool and noise
Try a larger bed
Try marital counciling as a guide for this situation only. If you figure it out you stop going.
You can work this out.
posted by ChrisB48 at 6:40 AM on June 29, 2010


Seconding that you need your own bed, especially since your husband isn't willing to be a good sharer. I know plenty of happily married couples who don't sleep in the same room because of similar issues.
posted by something something at 6:40 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been in a similar situation. There's no magic answer here. If he can't be made to stop snoring and you want to keep sharing a bed, it's some combo of earplugs, drugs, and making the room feel more like an igloo. Oh, and like others are saying, asserting your basic human need for at least n hours of uninterrupted sleep--just like he gets.

In my case, my ex did have sleep apnea, and once he started (after 8 years of my sleep deprivation, which leads to depression, anger, and resentment during waking hours) using a CPAP, I almost immediately felt like I was on vacation, like I had some kind of natural xanax flowing through my veins, like Snow White with birdies on her shoulder! I was GETTING. SLEEP. and it felt awesome!

I say all this to urge you to take a harder line with him regarding the touching, and to tackle the issues that "aren't easily addressed" that cause his snoring--because it's so worth it.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:41 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The relationship is the issue if you can't just talk this through in a way that resolves it.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:47 AM on June 29, 2010


Separate beds does not mean there's a marriage problem, it just means that sleep is a very important part of life. You need to be absolutely clear with him that whatever you've been doing for 13 years isn't working and he's just going to have to make some changes.

If you were allergic to peanut butter and your partner expected you to eat it every day and just put up with hives, what would you say?
posted by Rhomboid at 6:47 AM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wanted to hop back in and second a bed of your own. You don't even have to start out there, but on nights when you get to that crying state of frustration, go to the other bed. I started going to the second bedroom once we bought a house.

And ImproviseOrDie is exactly right....serious lack of sleep is bad for your physical and mental health, performance at work, your feelings for your husband. It really is worth asserting yourself and being firm about it. It's not just about being tired, it's about all the other things that then grow from that.

There are also other methods you can use to mitigate the snoring, besides breathe right strips. I was taking medication for a while that knocked me completely out, and I would snore like crazy. I tried a bunch of things, one of which was some sort of rinse that opened up my throat...it didn't stop it, but it was a little better. Sorry, what it was escapes me.
posted by nevercalm at 6:48 AM on June 29, 2010


Twin beds next to each other in your room
Go to bed together, but get up and go to another room after he falls asleep.
Sleeping pills
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:50 AM on June 29, 2010


Or, you could just wake him up every time he disturbs you, if you really want to make a point. If he's keeping you from sleeping, you return the favor. Pretty childish, but so is acting hurt when someone tells you that you're preventing them from getting sleep and they act hurt while insisting that that very thing brings them pleasure....
posted by nevercalm at 6:51 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you've spent 13 years sleep-deprived because your husband can't understand that post-snooze intimacy is actually harmful to your health, welfare and sanity, I'm sorry but that is actually a marital issue.

You may have the perfect marriage otherwise, noone will be able to say that, but plenty of couples go to therapy to resolve something other than catastrophic issues. You could get another bed in another room, but that's not going to solve your husband's desire for intimacy either, so I think addressing that problem might get you both sleep and an EVEN happier marriage.


Good luck!
posted by Hiker at 6:51 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


My boyfriend and I snuggle when we get into bed, then part ways when we've wound down and we're ready to sleep, and move to our respective sides. We come back together in the morning as we wake up. Neither of us is shy about prodding the other if they're taking more than their fair share of bed. Maybe suggest this, if a separate bed isn't an option? Also, earplugs might be a good idea.
posted by torisaur at 6:52 AM on June 29, 2010


after I specifically said the relationship is not the issue? We don't need marital counseling.

I'm with Obscure Reference. Something involving your husband is interfering with your life, and he won't deal with it. If that isn't a relationship issue, I don't know what is.

Look, counseling doesn't imply that there are serious problems or faultlines in the relationship. All it means is that there's something you could use a little outside help or mediation to handle properly. This is going to be true at various points in any healthy relationship. It doesn't even have to be formal counseling; talking with friends goes a long way towards filling that need.

But make no mistake: this is a relationship issue, and trying to fix the symptoms without trying to fix the fact that your husband isn't working with you here isn't going to produce any long-term change.
posted by valkyryn at 6:53 AM on June 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


My husband didn't believe how loud he snored until I recorded it one night, in a fit of desperation because I was so tired and just so sick of being unable to sleep. He was shocked, to say the least, and horrified -- and could completely understand why I was unable to sleep with that going on in the room.

Since our second bedroom is currently inhabited by our daughter, he slept on the couch for about a week so I could catch up, and then we experimented with solutions to help stop the snoring. The solution was him taking a Claritin-D every day. It has cut down on the snoring immensely. And if he has a cold, or has been drinking, then he sleeps on the couch (because the cold and/or drinking makes the snoring 10x worse).

Before that, he would say things like, "I can't believe you want to sleep somewhere else!" if I mentioned us having separate bedrooms or, "But I like it when you're in the bed with me, I sleep better." It was hurtful and I always wanted to scream. His snoring was not an every night issue, but it was many nights, and it would wake me up and I would be unable to sleep for large portions of the night.

So, maybe trying recording him. Or see if he can get into a sleep study to see if there are other things causing the snoring that can be fixed.
posted by sutel at 6:55 AM on June 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


My husband falls asleep and stays asleep easily, snores, puts off a lot of heat and loves to snuggle. There are nights I spend in bed, wide awake, his arm and leg tossed over me, with him snorting in my face. Sometimes, I want to cry because I just can't sleep.

I lived with someone just like this for several years. I compensated by taking sleeping pills, going to bed earlier than him, elbowing him a lot and wearing a bare minimum of clothing to counteract the heat he was putting off. Some nights, even all that didn't work and I would go to sleep on the couch. Of course, then he would get up and sit on the couch with me. But fortunately, that relationship is over now.

My husband and I have very different opinions on what temperature is appropriate to sleep comfortably, so we have the bedroom set cooler than he would like (yet warmer than I would like) and we use separate blankets. Well, I use a blanket, he uses about four. He does not cling, thankfully, but he is a pretty profound snorer, but I can mostly sleep through that.

I think that in your situation, a totally separate bed would be a tremendous improvement for you.
posted by crankylex at 6:59 AM on June 29, 2010


Got a guest room? Use it when you need to.
posted by spilon at 7:00 AM on June 29, 2010


Things that help me:

-Earplugs. I'll pop them in if I'm still awake when he starts snoring, no laying there for a few more minutes hoping to drift off and getting more and more annoyed. Recently switched from foam plugs to silicone, much more comfy and they don't do that slowly popping out of your ear thing that can get annoying.
- Large bed, two seperate matresses side by side with a pad on top.
- Exercise. Since I've been going to the gym my insomnia has all but gone away, I'm out like a light most nights.

My fiance is far more of a night owl than me so I don't have to deal with the snuggling issue so much, the seperate matresses tend to help keep him to his side when he is asleep.

I also used to be kept awake by my neighbours' water feature and wind chimes but the exercise + earplugs seem to have cured me of that too. Seems it was easier to fix me than it was to fix the noises.
posted by Ness at 7:00 AM on June 29, 2010


I require the same sleep situations as you. My husband doesn't. However, he doesn't have a problem falling asleep when my conditions are met, so we go with my conditions. This is really a no-brainer. Tell your husband you can't sleep. Tell him this is a serious issue. Tell him you feel like crying at night because you can't sleep. Tell him you sleep just fine when he's gone on business trips - because your very specific conditions are being met, not because he's not there. If he still makes it all about him at that point, then you do have issues. This has absolutely nothing to do with your love for him and he needs to recognize that.

Then, once he accepts the issue and agrees to help you deal with it, you can move on to trying some different techniques. Here's what works for me and my husband:

- White noise. I can't sleep if I can hear another person breathing, let alone snoring. We have a small desk fan in the attached bathroom that makes just enough white noise to keep me asleep. I can't sleep with earplugs in, I just can't. The feel of them, the fact that I can hear myself breathing...just can't do it. But the white noise is perfect.

- Room-darkening shades. Couldn't live without them.

- Here's the key for me: separate blankets. He has his, I have mine, all is right with the world. I could do a flat sheet if I didn't tuck in the one side but not having one doesn't bother me. I have to wash all the bedding twice a week anyway due to allergies so I just have a couple of nice comforters/blankets that I can throw in the washer and dryer. They have to be a specific weight, too, or I can't sleep. (and yes, sleeping away from home tends to be a nightmare for me)

If you try all those things and still can't sleep, I'd recommend separate sleeping arrangements. Some of the best marriages I know employ separate bedrooms and both parties are happy with it. Sleep is really, really important. Lack of it can end up causing serious problems. I hope your husband takes you seriously.
posted by cooker girl at 7:01 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've talked to him about giving me a little more space to sleep, but he acts hurt my the notion that "I don't want to be close to him in bed". He says he sleeps better when he can feel me next to him.

The relationship may be fantastic in every respect but this, but this is a big issue. If you're not getting restful sleep and your husband is putting his preferences above that very fundamental need, that's a loud signal that he may need some 3rd party help addressing the situation.

I feel your pain, and after my husband and I first moved in together, I did cry from lack of sleep. It's awful.

The only things I can suggest are getting two twin comforters for your bed. If you sleep under something really light like a 7 tog while he's all hot under his 14, it helps. The division of comforters also sort of helps the division of space. Ear plugs help if you can tolerate them (they give me panic attacks).

As a last resort, I suggest the couch - not for him, but for you. If you're not sleeping, grab a pillow and a blanket and move to another room. This does two things: a) you get sleep, b) it communicates that this is a serious and recurring problem.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:02 AM on June 29, 2010


Have you tried letting him get to sleep before you, so he can settle down? Then you could gently put a pillow between you and curl up on your side of the barrier.

Agreed with those who say that your husband is being a tad selfish with rating his need to snuggle over your lack of sleep - likely he is wayyyy underestimating how little sleep your getting. Talk to him again, make it clear that this is not a haha-you-annoying-husband issue but a real, I'm-on-the-verge-of-tears-from-sleep-deprivation issue. Nthing that you could use a second bed as at least an occasional option.

We have a really comfortable papasan couch that we both like that's kept in my husband's office, and it's a general rule of the house that it's okay for one of us to choose to sleep there from time to time, mainly because it's so comfortable - if there might be an auxiliary reason related to the other person tossing and turning a bit more than usual, we let that bit slide and stick to the "it's more comfortable" story - mutually, so as to avoid wounding feelings.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:06 AM on June 29, 2010


Yeah, man, get your sleep, NEVER comprimise on the sleep space issue in a way that prevents you from getting anything less than total rest, it's such a recipe for total misery. The last time around for me it was the dogs, like I don't care how cute they are there's no way I can sleep with these two fat loudass dogs up in the bed. She had a big house with a lot of extra space so when I was over her place it was no big deal because I could just sleep in another room if I needed to so once I started hitting a wall with it I communicated really clearly that I may need to have my own space after a certain point in the night and that it had no bearing on how I was feeling about her whatsoever and she was like, "Well, the dogs aren't going anywhere so you better put some sheets on the other bed!" and we were both cool with that, problem solved.
posted by The Straightener at 7:11 AM on June 29, 2010


Would he feel better about it if HE went to bed first and you sat up reading, snuggled up against him WAY WAY OVER ON HIS SIDE, and then once he dozed off you could go to sleep over on your side?

A body pillow between the two of you may also help (which you could place after he dozes off).

I've trained my husband to respond to commands to roll over in his sleep. I'm not kidding. He tends to crowd me and he is a FURNACE and he wants a million blankets and I want none. So with repetition I trained him to roll over in the right direction, by always using the same two-word phrase and nudging him the right direction. After about six months I realized I had pretty effectively trained him and he now just responds to the phrase, without even waking up. This vastly improved my quality of life. ("Face me/face the wall" works fine/"roll towards me/roll away" ... whatever.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:18 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you're putting yourself second here. He sleeps better when you're near him so he can snuggle with you, but you don't sleep at all. And yet his insistence persists? No good, no good.

If you've told him the things you've told us here and he still insists that he won't be able to sleep without you next to him, then you do have a marital problem -- maybe not a serious one, but one that a neutral third party can help you address. I can certainly understand that he might be concerned that your not wanting to snuggle is the equivalent of you not wanting intimacy with him -- and even though you've said that's not the case, he may be hearing that as just a story you're telling him so as not to hurt his feelings. I'm not saying that only someone like a counselor can help, but you need to do something to get through to him.*

*This, again, presupposes that you've told him exactly what you've told us -- that you're so sleep deprived that you want to cry, that it is causing you resentment, etc. If you haven't told him that directly, you need to do that NOW. Once he realizes how serious this is for you (and it is serious -- sleep deprivation is a bad, bad thing), that may change things.
posted by devinemissk at 7:22 AM on June 29, 2010


I am a husband who:
- Loves to cuddle my wife while we sleep
- Snores loudly
- Sleeps deeply

My wife, on the other hand:
- Does not like to be cuddled when we sleep
- Does not snore
- Is a light sleeper

She explained the situation to me. Yes, I was disappointed, but I sucked it up and did the following:

- I usualy make sure she has a good solid head start on getting to sleep before I come to bed.
- I do not cuddle her if she's already asleep.
- I try to enforce my own "two poke" rule. If she pokes me once because I'm snoring too loudly, I change positions. If she pokes me again for snoring, I take my pillow and sleep on the couch. It's a nice compromise and I'm not resentful about it.

This is really not difficult.

Short version: Your husband needs to suck it up. If you have asked him to do these things and he refuses, you have a relationship problem.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:27 AM on June 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


As a husband who likes to snuggle (and snore, and toss around), I have to say I think that your husband is being selfish.

Reassure him that it's not that you don't *want* to sleep with him, but rather that you *can't* sleep next to him. While continuing to reassure him that you love him, and you're not filing for divorce </tongue in cheek>, ask him to repeat to himself as he's falling asleep that he'll stay on his own side of the bed.

Every so often, even on our king size foam mattress I'll get reports that I'm rolling onto my wife and snoring in her ear. I start telling myself while falling to sleep that I'm not going to do that, and it stops. More specifically, I say "I sleep peacefully on my side." and similarly postively phrased statements.

If you reframe it as you'd really like to continue to sleep in the same bed, but that you fear separate beds might be the next step you have to take, that you would love him to try his best. But people get driven crazy if they can't get enough sleep.
posted by nobeagle at 7:27 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I snore. My wife is a light sleeper. Fortunately for her, I suppose, I am currently traveling a lot. When I am home over the weekends, I sleep in the guest room. Before that, due to my snoring, I would sleep on the living room floor in a sleeping bag.

Sure, she could wear earplugs, or she could move to the guest room, but frankly, since she's a light sleeper doing those thing would further disturb her sleep. I can sleep anywhere. I don't care. It's easier to just skip the whole poke-chaz-a-few-times dance. I will probably snore. I will probably fall asleep before her and prevent her from falling asleep. Better for both to avoid that situation.

I am like your husband in that I would like nothing more than to snuggle my wife, sleep next to her, etc. However, if I do that, she cannot sleep. I then feel terrible because I know that I am the direct cause of her terrible night. So, I give up on that front to preserve domestic tranquility. I'm not crazy about sleeping on the floor or in the guest room, but you know what, it beats knowing that I'm causing my wife to get no sleep.

So, for the snoring, you can try earplugs. For the heat-monster, you can try wearing less or using fans or something. However, an absolute fix will be him sleeping somewhere else, and in my opinion he ought to be willing to do that for your sake if the situation is not resolvable by medical or other means]

One snoring tip. In situations where mrs. chaz and I have to share a bed [visiting family, hotels for sports tourneys] I tape my mouth shut with hockey tape. It stops my snoring completely.

Also, to stop moving around I will sometimes put my phone and glasses on the bed right next to my head. Apparently my lizard brain realizes those things are there and does not roll over them.

On preview, what the last three said.
posted by chazlarson at 7:32 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but I'm going to continue to dismiss the "get marital counseling" recommendations. My husband is a counselor. I think counseling is GREAT in lots of situations. I'm a believer in counseling for marriages, for personal issues, for family problems, etc. and have personally seen a counselor many times. I just feel in my heart and mind that this is not a counseling issue - it's a logistical issues.

Sorry to come off short - maybe I'm just cranky from lack of sleep! I had an especially horrid, sleepless night last night. :-(
posted by MorningPerson at 7:35 AM on June 29, 2010


Just a thought, particularly if your husband pulls the "but I like it better this way" line with you. While in an ideal situation he should respond if you say you need something to change for your well being, it sounds like you need to point out how this benefits him as well. (I know, it's shitty, but that's what it sounds like to me).

Point out to him that you being chronically sleep-deprived is going to result in you being stressed, cranky, irritable, and *far* less likely to be willing to do what he wants in bed, if you get my drift. Does he want to live with a partner like that? Likely not. It's therefore in his best interest to make sure you get some sleep.

Good luck!
posted by LN at 7:35 AM on June 29, 2010


This is me and my husband as well. I just went and slept on the couch as soon as he woke me up (he never woke up). After a couple of weeks of waking up in bed alone, he got the point.

(I am saving for a king-sized bed.)
posted by gaspode at 7:41 AM on June 29, 2010


I don't really think you have a relationship problem. Because you tolerate it, I think he genuinely doesn't understand the severity of the problem. Tell him, sweetly, "Sugarpop, we can snuggle while you're going to sleep, because I know how much you love it, and because I love you so very much. Once you're asleep, I need more space, so I will lovingly shove your leg or arm off my body. When I'm too warm to sleep well, I will lovingly shove you over, so I can get some rest."

If the loving message is ineffective, find somewhere in the house you can sleep. On any night that he muckles on, and won't shove over, go sleep in the guest room/couch and in the morning, no resentment, no anger, just, "Sweetie, I was too hot/crowded to sleep, and I really needed to get some rest" followed by a big hug for your honeybear.

If he snores really loudly, he should see a doctor to make sure it's not health-related.

I agree with nobeagle that if he tells himself not to muckle onto you at night, it will help.
posted by theora55 at 7:42 AM on June 29, 2010


I've tried sleeping with my head toward the foot of the bed when my boyfriend is snoring with his head at the head of the bed. I find that being further from the source of the noise helps and if there's snuggling going on that is interfering with my sleep, I can deal with it better when it is happening to the lower half of my body. Then again, he's not a chronic loud snorer, so my temporary solution may not work for your continual problem.

I'll reiterate the suggestion of turning on a fan in the room and trying the two blanket solution. A body pillow might help your husband with his need for snuggling to get a good nights sleep while helping you as well.

A former boyfriend and I would take bed breaks where one of us would sleep on the couch and the other would sleep in luxury on the bed. Sometimes you just need one really good night of sleep a week to make the rest of the week's compromise doable.

If you can, show your husband this thread. I think you've expressed your frustration clearly and if I were your husband, I'd appreciate that you were trying to come up with good solutions.

I hope that you come up with something that helps you get good sleep.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:51 AM on June 29, 2010


If your husband is a counselor, I'd ask him what his advice would be to a person who came to him saying that she hadn't had a full night's sleep in 13 years and that her spouse responded to this with pouting and complaints. The two of you need to talk about this and really hash it out, and I am getting the impression, as others have said, that he doesn't fully understand the depth of the problem.
posted by decathecting at 7:54 AM on June 29, 2010 [20 favorites]


Like some others above, I seriously AM your husband. I might even be worse: I snore insanely, I am a compulsive snuggler, twitcher, kicker, sleep-talker—and also I like to sleep with all the windows open and all the blinds open so it's as noisy and windy and bright as possible. I also have a hilariously short sleep cycle (I like to get five to six hours) and also like to spring out of bed singing a song.

I am, in short, a total nightmare.

But although I think I would love nothing more than to roll around in the blazing morning sunlight completely wrapped in my partner's arms (even better: with the annoying, yowling cat on top of us!) there is actually one thing I would like more than that dreamy scenario! That is: for my partner to not be perpetually exhausted and cross.

So we sleep in the dark, with a fan or a white noise machine on in the room, in the dark with the blinds drawn, with the cat locked out, with pillows between us, in a bedroom with carpets on the floor that help absorb ambient sound, on opposite sides of the bed. (He hates ear plugs and sleeping pills, and I can understand why--they're terrible!) So sometimes in the morning and before bed I get a little bit of snuggling.

And guess what? No one wants to kill me! My partner also does not want to kill everyone at work in the afternoons, because he is not exhausted!

This is far more important than my sleep preferences. And how did we come to this agreement? One, I noticed his exhaustion, and was willing to help. But, two, more importantly, he told me about it in great, strenuous, sometimes loud detail! This went on for some time until we found the situation that worked for us. It was a negotiation, sure, and loving, but it was also him constantly saying "I AM TOO TIRED TO FUNCTION. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME. YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THIS AND WE NEED TO FIX IT." That's what really did it.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:55 AM on June 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


My dad is an incredible snorer, and my parents always slept in seperate beds until he started using a stop-snoring mouthpiece (something like this one, but not this one) which worked well for him.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 7:58 AM on June 29, 2010


RJ Reynolds... I think you might be on to something! Maybe I need to be way more vocal about how poorly I'm sleeping. My husband knows I'm a bad sleeper, but I don't think he knows the extent of how much it's impacting me.

And Sutel - good idea, I might record him snoring. I think he would be SHOCKED to hear how loud it is. Last night, he sounded like an angry grizzly bear raiding camp.
posted by MorningPerson at 8:00 AM on June 29, 2010


Your husband is, as several posters have pointed out, being quite selfish. He is not thinking about the actual expression of love, but of an idea of what love should "look like." Loving someone means giving them the space they need to breathe so that they can get that most vital necessity of sleep, and learning how to access your inner maturity to understand that their need not to be smothered while sleeping is no reflection of their affection for you.

Mr. Tigerbelly is also a snorer, hot, and a close-sleeper. I am a light sleeper sensitive to noise, must be in a slightly cooler environment than normal to fall sleep, and start fidgeting if I am "trapped" under someone's arm for more than 15 seconds. I'm also an insomniac, so every small measure of sleep feels like something I must battle for. Sleeping through the night is a privilege some people take for granted, and they really don't understand how unbelievably painful it is to be denied that simple need. I have definitely cried before when the snoring & heat & smothering have made it even harder for me than usual to get any sleep...and then gotten up and gone to sleep on the couch. I have also been very vocal & upfront with my husband about what makes it hard for me to sleep and how important it is that I do sleep.

These days: I wear earplugs, we keep the bedroom cooler than my husband would like (and use a "multi-season" comforter that I generally keep one leg thrust out from), and I have, like Eyebrows McGee, actually trained him to respond in his sleep to a nudge and "snoring!" to roll over on his side. My husband is actually cooperative on this, and though he would prefer to probably sleep inside my skin if he could, he is 100% supportive and understanding when I huff a little bit and push him a few inches away from me when he gets up in my face. He will also not take it personally if sometimes I get up after he has fallen asleep and try to catch a few hours of sleep on the couch before braving the bed again.

Mr. Tigerbelly will often snuggle me a little when we first go to bed, but he knows that he'll probably get about 30 seconds before i get restless and have to shift position, and that it doesn't mean I don't love him. Instead of close snuggling all night, we tend to sleep like "paper dolls" -- with some constant light contact, but not right up against each other. Also, though he is taller than I am, he has adjusted to being the "inside spoon" -- I am more comfortable & feel less smothered as the outside spoon, so that is how we cuddle up. I like contact, but his contact is too much for me -- so we have adjusted how we physically occupy the bed, and how we maintain that sense of touch.

I don't think you have a terrible relationship problem here -- but your husband, frankly, needs to behave more like my husband. Maybe one way to help him get there is to be more honest than I suspect you have been about exactly how awful this is for you, and to try to work with him on compromises that give him the sense of being loved without the conditions that make you want to die. Trying to fall asleep before he does actually is often counterproductive, since you can't control the sleep environment once he arrives -- if you cuddle him when he first arrives, and then move apart a bit, as torisaur & her boyfriend do, this would give him the nighttime reassurance he needs & the space you need. Not to mention that my own experience shows that he'll probably be conked out before you, and then won't even notice if you are not entangled while he sleeps. This is absolutely a solvable problem -- he just needs to actually work on trying to solve it with you.
posted by tigerbelly at 8:01 AM on June 29, 2010


Having your own place to sleep (own bed / couch / mat on the floor / guestroom) can do wonders. Just make sure that you have several cuddle times with your husband to fulfill his intimacy needs so that he won't miss you as much while he's in dreamland. You should also get him a body pillow.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:03 AM on June 29, 2010


Maybe show your husband this thread?

I don't have anything to add. My husband is the same way: falls asleep easily, snores, would snuggle if I let him, etc. Still, unless he has a big dinner or a cold, I get a good night's sleep because we have dark blinds, he sleepily responds to me saying "turn" or "move over" if he's on too much of my side of the [king sized] bed, and so on.

There are a lot of possible solutions to your situation. You are in a lot of badly slept company, here, heh. Maybe if you show your husband this thread he'll see how others have compromised to make their sleeping partners happier, well-rested people. One thing's for sure, he has to compromise something.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:10 AM on June 29, 2010


When my husband and I were first married we actually slept on a full size bed. We were cuddly sleepers out of necessity.

When I got pregnant with my first child that all changed. I needed much more space to get comfortable and couldn't handle the cuddling any more. That's when we bought the queen bed.

I'm a really heavy sleeper. My problem is that I need very specific circumstances in order to fall asleep in the first place. I'm just like you, I need it dark, quiet, and cool. My husband doesn't have a hard time falling asleep, but he's a light sleeper and will wake up at the slightest noise. He really feels better sleeping cuddled up to me, it actually helps him sleep more deeply.

So we compromise. We'll start out with him spooning me, but when he starts to doze off either he'll roll over himself or if I need him to I'll just ask him to move. If he still needs cuddle time he'll just put a hand on my back or my butt. That way he feels close to me, but I still have my space. Most of the time he's happy with just a little bit of cuddling before we sleep and then rolling over. (And our white noise machine is a sanity saver.)

The other thing we do to help this compromise is we'll cuddle more during waking hours. If we're sitting on the couch watching a movie I'm usually sitting right next to him either hugging his arm or with my back to him with his arm around me. Getting cuddle time while we're awake helps him to do without while we're asleep.

I agree that you don't need counselling about this, but you probably aren't doing a good enough job communicating to him exactly how upsetting this is for you. He's obviously a good guy if your relationship is good in every other way. I think you need to just have a serious sit down with him and let him know how hard this is for you. Tell him lovingly, but in no uncertain terms. I think once he realizes that this is actually affecting your health and well being he'll be willing to compromise.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2010


My wife snores, it's a family trait, both parents and her brother do it. I think the cat has inherited snoring from her too.
Sometimes I get straight off to sleep without issues; other times, I resort to ear plugs, failing that a white noise generator on my iPod, or I move to the spare room. We're used to it, there's no issues since she's aware that it's only because of her snoring that I move.
posted by arcticseal at 8:25 AM on June 29, 2010


I have said before here that I think sleeping together is overrated. I am an insomniac, a light sleeper when I DO sleep, and I need it dark and very quiet. My husband and I start out every night together, but then, when it's time to actually sleep, one of us usually gets up and sleeps in the guest room (usually him). This does not illustrate marital problems, it does not signify a lack of love or closeness in our relationship (ask anyone who knows us, we are nauseatingly happy together), it merely indicates the fact that our sleeping styles are not compatible on most nights, and well-rested spouses have more energy for, and good feelings toward, each other than exhausted spouses do, especially when the exhaustion comes from the fact that one spouse (intentionally or not) makes it impossible for the other spouse to get good sleep.

Having lived with someone who snored LOUDLY, and who insisted on sleeping together, I understand very well how frustrating and relationship-harming that is, I suspect your husband doesn't really realize the true extent of this problem, since he is not the one having trouble sleeping. You can maintain a happy, loving marriage, cuddle each other at bedtime, and be very compatible in every other way, and still sleep separately. In fact, in my situation anyway, a component of my marriage's success is the fact that my husband is sensitive to the fact that our sleeping styles are incompatible. When it's time to sleep (as opposed to other bedroom activities, including cuddling), what we're doing is sleeping, and we do that better (in general) separately. Well-rested spouses are happier spouses.
posted by biscotti at 8:37 AM on June 29, 2010


I am much like your husband in that I must cuddle, and I get very COLD so I like to snuggle up to BF for the body heat, also. I don't snore, but apparently I'm annoying enough without that. It became clear after months of BF trying to gently roll me aside, only to be attacked anew moments later, that we just couldn't get good quality sleep in the same bed. And I did kind of whine about it at first, but I am also an occasional insomniac and I know all too well how awful it can be to get up in the morning feeling like the inside of your head is all scorched and you can't think straight because you're so exhausted.

So what we started doing was napping together. An occasional 1-2 hour nap together worked wonders on many levels - it satisfied my need for that particular form of intimacy without encroaching on anyone's "real" sleep, and it also makes us both feel a hell of a lot more rested. for some reason, there are hardly any issues with anyone being annoyed or not being able to sleep during naptime - generally we're both out like a light. I think it's because naps are, how shall I say, optional? If you don't sleep, you don't sleep - there's not that pressure that we feel at night like OMG I MUST SLEEP NOW 3 HOURS TILL ALARM GOES OFF OMG...... it's just relaxing time. Even if I'm draped all over him and he's snoring. Time doesn't always permit, I know, but hopefully you can try this at least a few times and see if it doesn't help.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 8:40 AM on June 29, 2010


Definitely in your position. Absolutely.

'moonMan doesn't snore all the time, but when he does, I move to the couch. (It's a comfortable couch that folds-down into a full sized bed. If you can't afford a new bed - or fit a king size in your room, I advocate for a couch that's comfortable to sleep on.) He would love to be snuggling me all the time, but he's learned that I just can't stand having ANY weight on me (other than a blanket) when I sleep. He's learned to live with that as his life is more tolerable when I sleep and that's worth more than a few minutes of snuggling at night.

We had to get two blankets out of necessity because 'moonMan would pull mine off me in sneaky, sneaky ways in the night. He was reluctant to go with this until the night when he pulled the duvet off of me - but not the cover. I was still covered, so I didn't notice until I woke up freezing with only the cover over me and all of the actual blanket on him. Still don't know how he did that. (He also strips his pillows of their cases every night. Somehow.)

I, too, go to bed before him almost every night and that helps immensely. We had a white noise machine for a while and that was a godsend. Currently, I'm tired enough from work that the white noise machine isn't as necessary as it used to be.

My last suggestion is to do absolutely EVERYTHING you can to be as tired as possible when you go to sleep. I'm sure you already do this, but if you can think of even one more thing, try it. Chamomile tea. Melatonin. Whatever. I have a strict routine that I follow and developing it has helped more than anything, both in getting my sleep more normal in general and keeping me from waking up when the Snoreasaurus attacks.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:43 AM on June 29, 2010


You could fake having a sore lower back and need a body pillow so you can lie on your side with one leg over it to position you correctly. Sort of cowardly, but not easy to argue against.
posted by meepmeow at 9:01 AM on June 29, 2010


Does anyone who uses ear plugs AND HAS THEM WORK have any brand recommendations? Because I have yet to find any earplugs that block out heavy man snoring, and I'm amazed so many of you seem to have found them!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:17 AM on June 29, 2010


Agree with all those who say that there is some kind of communication problem here. You express very well here how badly this affects you, but you don't seem to have persuaded him to realise it. Not that all the responsibility rests with you, but some way needs to be found to get him to understand.

I'm in a similar situation, and mr alto initially was a bit hurt that I couldn't sleep with him wrapped round me pumping out heat, but he soon realised that a sleep-deprived me was not pleasant to live with.

Things I recommend:
earplugs
as large a bed as you can afford
a cover (duvet/blankets/whatever) that is a larger size than the bed if possible
being unafraid to sleep separately (mostly advice to him rather than you)

and for jenfullmoon: I like wax ones - I'm sure they have various names in different countries, but here in the UK you can buy them in Boots and they're called "Muffles"
posted by altolinguistic at 9:38 AM on June 29, 2010


I wish people would quit demonizing your husband. He isn't being selfish because he doesn't understand the extent of the problem. You've said that you've mentioned it to him and that he was hurt, but I would also be "hurt." I would also be joking and would try to accommodate you. This is difficult to do when you are asleep.

Show him this thread, let him choose what suggestions to try. See if it helps.

As an aside, because you vehemently deny marriage problems to strangers, showing him this thread would probably help allay any fears of his that you don't want to be close to him. Sure, he might think you're lying when you say that to him, but why would you bother lying to strangers?
posted by InsanePenguin at 10:15 AM on June 29, 2010


13 years you had to put up with this?

Your husband's a jerk for not helping. I agree entirely with LuckySeven~.

(Context point: I'm male, been married to a woman for 20 years.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 10:33 AM on June 29, 2010


Long thread is long, so I'm not sure if someone has mentioned this. In addition to all the excellent advice above, I suggest you schedule "snuggling time" apart from sleeping. This is NOT sexytime or naptime, although it can lead to that if you both want to, but it may give your husband the physical contact he wants without depriving you of nighttime sleep. This eliminates the "you don't want to be close to me" issue. I am a reformed nighttime snuggler (and a loud snorer), and having extra snuggles before/after bedtime worked for me (plus the CPAP for the snoring). We also snuggle when we're watching TV, hold hands when we walk down the street, etc. Perhaps physical affection elsewhere will curb his need for it in bed.
posted by desjardins at 10:41 AM on June 29, 2010


If he is snoring and you are wide awake, go hit the couch.

My husband was just like yours (in his case he DOES have sleep apnea) so I feel your pain. But you need your sleep. If he objects to the above suggestion then heck yes you DO need marriage counseling. Or at the very least a friendly pastor or doctor or family friend who will kindly tell him to grow up and let you sleep! (PS well rested wives want more sex. That should be a selling point. *wink*)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:52 AM on June 29, 2010


My husband is not a snuggler, but I wanted more so he started holding my hand while we sleep. I love it! We're not big hand holders during the day. so it makes bedtime kind of special.
posted by defreckled at 10:57 AM on June 29, 2010


A partial solution, but...

We moved all the other furniture out of our tiny bedroom in order to accomodate a king-sized bed. We nailed shelves to the wall to use as nightstands.

A queen bed is only 6 inches wider than a full/double (60 inches vs. 54 inches). A twin is 39 inches wide, and a king is 76 inches wide. If you're sleeping in a queen bed, you've only got 30 inches to call your own. As a fellow person who needs SPACE, I can tell you that getting a king mattress was money well spent.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:57 AM on June 29, 2010


Since he's such a deep sleeper, can you snuggle up together until he falls asleep and then move to another room? The situation you describe is absolutely untenable. I'd lose my shit in a week, let alone 13 years.

Hell, if you have to - sneak back into bed with him in the morning before he wakes up. This may be a situation where it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:31 PM on June 29, 2010


I just feel in my heart and mind that this is not a counseling issue - it's a logistical issue

It'll be a logistical issue once he takes your needs seriously. Until then, it's a communication issue--albeit an easily solved one: "I know this feels like I'm rejecting intimacy with you, but I'm really just trying to get my physical need for enough sleep met; we need to find ways to meet your need for intimacy and closeness before we fall to sleep and my need for space and quiet after we fall asleep."
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:37 PM on June 29, 2010


In addition to talking to your husband frankly about how your lack of sleep is impacting you (sleep deprivation is actually used as a form of torture!), if he is a loud snorer and ESPECIALLY if you notice him stopping breathing in his sleep, tell him to get his grizzly-bear-noise butt to the doctor for a sleep test. Not all snorers have apnea but many heavy snorers do - and sleep apnea is no joke - he could eventually have a heart attack or stroke.

And CPAP machines are not the cumbersome Darth Vader appliances of old - many masks are unobtrusive nose-pieces, and the units themselves are small and quiet.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:15 PM on June 29, 2010


re: earplugs that work, I've really only ever used the compressed foam ones that you can buy in bulk in places like Lowe's. The trick is to get them really really crushed down good, then position them perfectly in your ear canal....this takes a little practice. (Even after all these years, I still have more trouble with my left ear than my right. Something about the angle, my dexterity with that hand, I don't know...) Then you have to hold them in while they expand. Once they're done expanding, you can even push them in a little farther with yr pinkie. Not too far, tho, but you'll only make that mistake once, I promise.

I usually use the same ones for a week (I always clean my ears right before bed bc of this). By the end of the week, they're not working so well anymore.
posted by nevercalm at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2010


Insane Penguin... you sound a lot like my husband. I don't think he's being selfish, either. I honestly don't think he understands. He teases me about being a light sleeper - calls me his "Princess and the Pea".
posted by MorningPerson at 1:49 PM on June 29, 2010


Knowyournuts - I love that idea! Maybe we can have a room-size mattress! :-) Because, honestly... I do like sleeping with him next to me. I just need some more space. And as others suggested, maybe I'll try earplugs or white noise for the snoring.
posted by MorningPerson at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2010


Seconding the body pillow (get a good quality long one with a lofty, unsquishable fill, not a $20 Bloodbath and Beyond model) and separate blankets.

It won't cure snoring, but it prevents illegal wrestling pins, and allows you to moderate your own microclimate. Good fences make good neighbours, but someone sleeping on the couch is lonely.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:28 AM on June 30, 2010


I am you. Kinda. The kicker is we have split mattresses, with an uncomfortable line in the middle. And my fiance likes to *pull* me towards his side such that I end up on that split line, with (I swear) his five legs and four arms around me. I really don't think you have a counseling need/marital problem. However, it does sound like your husband doesn't understand the severity of your problem.

Some of these suggestions are being repeated:
- King size bed is worth it! Try it out next time you and your husband are staying at a hotel to see how much improvement (or not) it provides for you.

- Separate blankets, for sure. Heavier blanket for him.

- I know you said his snoring cannot be addressed right now. Keep checking in with this every so often, since new methods are introduced all the time.

- Silicone earplugs are the bomb. I got used to wearing them while working in a very noisy lab, and then sleeping with them in was a lot easier. Try wearing them for a few hours during the day to get used to having something stuck in your ear. That way, when you wear them to sleep, you can focus away from them.

- The amount of heat your husband produces may possibly be helped. Eating dinner at least 2, preferably 3-4 hours before going to bed is a good start. A cool shower before bed is another idea.

- Try snuggling with you as the big spoon. That way you control the amount of skin contact, pressure, etc. See if there is a happy medium.
posted by copperbleu at 12:54 AM on June 30, 2010


For everyone piling on the husband, it really is difficult for somebody who is an easy/deep sleeper to understand the magnitude of the problem for three reasons.

1. Falling asleep easily means you always drop off before your insomniac partner. The problem is always something you hear about in retrospect, never something you witness at the peak of your partner's unhappiness. The suggestion to use video could really help here.

2. For better or worse, sleep is one of those things people tend to exaggerate about. You never hear anybody say "Well, I got a reasonable amount of sleep last night, but I woke up a couple times, so it was kinda patchy and non-optimal" it's always "I didn't sleep a wink all night!" So whenever somebody tells you about their sleep issues, you sort of mentally readjust the severity downwards because exaggerating on this subject is SOP, right? Again, video is your friend on this one.

3. For me, what happens is I become increasingly sleepy, then I reach a critical mass of sleepiness and then I fall asleep. Simple. Light, noise, temperature - none of that stuff matters. If I'm sleepy enough, I will fall asleep. That's what sleep is. That's how sleep works. If somebody is being picky about their sleeping conditions, that's just them being a fusspot, right? If they can't fall asleep, then they can't really be tired yet.

(To achieve the necessary leap in understanding, it can actually be helpful to view light sleepers as disabled. For whatever reason, their sleep mechanism doesn't work properly and it's on us heavy sleepers to make all reasonable accommodations with heat, light, sound, etc.)

So yeah, keep trying to communicate the problem to your husband. I don't think he's selfish, I think he just truly doesn't get it yet and will likely be horrified at what he's been putting you through once he does get it.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:29 AM on July 2, 2010


I'm a light sleeper, who needs space, some light, and quiet (but not silence). And I've never slept through a night in my life without being seriously drugged. Oh, and if I'm stressed, in ideal sleep conditions I wake up every 15mins. In non-ideal ones, I don't sleep at all, which stresses me out.

The husband is a heavy sleeper, who needs darkness, quiet, and snores loudly enough to wake himself up at times.

We have a poke system. Every time he gets too loud, I poke him until he stops. If, on a given night, he just *doesn't* stop (which happens once in a while) I go sleep somewhere else for a while, come back with the dawn for our pre-wakeup-snuggle. If I'm under a lot of stress, we cuddle for 20mins at bedtime, then *he* goes and sleeps on the couch.

I get murderous and/or vague and/or weepy and/or irrationally irritable when I don't get sufficient sleep. Once this was effectively communicated to my husband we came up with the above compromise solutions to keep us both relatively happy and sane.
posted by ysabet at 5:51 PM on July 3, 2010


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