Sleeping Together
September 21, 2004 7:22 PM   Subscribe

I got engaged a few weeks ago, and raw romance has inevitably turned to more practical matters, the most immediate of which is how to sleep together, now that I'm moving in. Sharing a bed for purposes of sleeping is no mean feat, it seems -- though I do fairly well, she barely sleeps, what with my stealing the covers and talking in my sleep. Now we're wondering if we should put two twin beds together, have two separate comforters, get a king-sized, maybe start using earplugs. How did you learn to sleep with your significant other or, perhaps, how did they learn to sleep with you?
posted by waldo to Human Relations (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Your circumstances made me smile, because my ex had the same problems as your SO. We slept on a queen, and we're fairly petite people, so we had plenty of room to separate if necessary. In my opinion, sleep comes with trust. We slept together long before we moved in, so she and I developed a sychronicity that I can't really describe. Before you do anything drastic, I suggest that you take some time, get familiar with each other, and your bodies will find a nitch.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:28 PM on September 21, 2004

Don't over-engineer a solution, here. It doesn't sound like this is something you've tried for long; give it some time and see if something works itself out. If she still finds herself bothered by sleeping next to you after you've worked on it a while, ask her what you can do to fix the problem.

Caveat: I'm easy to sleep with (shut up!) because I mostly just dislodge anything covering me and then remain more or less motionless for several hours. This may well mean I'm trivializing your problem.
posted by majick at 7:42 PM on September 21, 2004

Response by poster: Actually, majick, we've been together for eight years. But being together almost entirely on the weekends has meant that it's not a problem to sleep late in the mornings; waking up at noon has allowed us to avoid the problem. M-F, of course, it's a different story.
posted by waldo at 7:49 PM on September 21, 2004

Oh, good! In that case, it's down to my one measly little point: Find out the things that are bothering her, and mitigate them. She'll hopefully be full of ideas.

Should it come to it, separate beds really aren't too awful. Give her the big one, come and visit it on occasion (possibly even with bonus falling asleep after "visitation" every so often), and otherwise stay out of her way.
posted by majick at 7:53 PM on September 21, 2004

Oh boy, that sounds familiar. I'm a "starfish", and I always end up with the duvet. (I maintain the problem is my broad shoulders - as I roll over, I take more of the covers with me than she does...)

One simple solution - she wears pajamas, I don't. Another - get an oversized duvet, then you don't run out.

And yeah, these things take time to sort out. Don't stress too much just yet.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:00 PM on September 21, 2004

Over-engineer a solution. Dig a trench at shoulder level so that you can spoon without getting a dead arm.
posted by holloway at 8:06 PM on September 21, 2004 [2 favorites]

I find two duvets a must.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:12 PM on September 21, 2004

Best answer: My SO and I have to have a "chastity pillow" between us (that's just what we call it - it's not that we remain chaste). Otherwise I can feel all his movements and his body sticking to mine and yuck. But I agree that it takes time.

I think the two twin beds may not be the worst solution. Also keep in mind that many couples do not spend every night together. Could you still maintain separate beds/bedrooms and make a point of "visiting" each other every night?
posted by Coffeemate at 8:20 PM on September 21, 2004

Just take time. And if you steal the blankets, it might help to have extra large ones. We only use one blanket, and it's king-sized, even though our bed is a queen. So long as your bed is a queen, you'll be fine. I've tried to sleep in a twin, and that really sucked, so I wouldn't advise it. Just wait.
posted by stoneegg21 at 8:42 PM on September 21, 2004

Apparently I am very difficult to sleep with because, while I don't steal sheets (in fact, I shed them any chance I can) I do talk and, on many occasions, laugh in my sleep. My SO is a very light sleeper. Solution? Separate beds. It just works out better not constantly bearing an understated, seething resentment towards someone for something they really have no control over.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:57 PM on September 21, 2004

I snore. And toss and turn. And steal blankets. This makes my boyfriend hit me. And then I stop for a while.

So just have her whack you when you're doing all that stuff that keeps her awake. You'll learn. Or, at least I did. It's an unconscious thing, probably pretty subjective. But it works for me.

Ah, violence. The cause of, and solution to, all off life's problems.
posted by billybunny at 9:03 PM on September 21, 2004 [1 favorite]

We've always had two blankets because some nights I'm cold and he's warm, others the other way around. It prevents the stealing problem, too, as we're both terrible blanket stealers. He used to snore but doesn't anymore - I think I trained him out of it. We had a double but now have a queen and it's much, much nicer for the small cost of upgrading. I agree with others that you should deal with her immediate problems (blankets) and let the other things work themselves out.
posted by some chick at 9:11 PM on September 21, 2004 [1 favorite]

1. two twin beds together


2. have two separate comforters

One big one or piles of blankets are each preferable

3. get a king-sized

if it's a queen, maybe, but prolly not, unless you are Larry Ellison

4. maybe start using earplugs

mmmmaybe, but if she does, you may find your engagement in jeopardy. You simply need to learn to sleep solicitously!

(I'm only serious, here, waldo.)
posted by mwhybark at 9:42 PM on September 21, 2004

Best answer: When I moved to Germany, separate duvets were the norm, and that's what we bought. Amazingly, it took little getting used to and now we love it. Snuggling is no problem and neither is blanket theft.
posted by Goofyy at 9:43 PM on September 21, 2004

I'm a hideous blanket imperialist, so the easiest thing for me and the SO was to get separate blankets. We can always share a blanket for cuddling. I poke him every so often when he starts snoring too loudly, and it helps. Apparently I talk in my sleep, and I've kicked him once too. He wakes me up when this happens. Isn't it romantic?

(Mazel tov, and such. You're cute together. ^.^)
posted by calistasm at 9:47 PM on September 21, 2004

waldo - this is a difficult technical problem (no sarcasm intended).

Your question is very central to your marital happiness, so I can't take it lightly.

I have sleep on this.

*sleeps, snores, wife wakes up*
posted by troutfishing at 9:51 PM on September 21, 2004 [1 favorite]

my boyfriend snores. i poke him and he stops. i hog blankets. he pokes me and i release. i mumble in my sleep. he pokes me, i hit him and i stop.

the lesson? never underestimate the power of poking.
posted by amandaudoff at 9:59 PM on September 21, 2004 [4 favorites]

Seperate duvets. It solves so many problems.
posted by salmacis at 3:25 AM on September 22, 2004

the lesson? never underestimate the power of poking.

And, of course, being a gracious pokee. I knew I had found the fella for me when I would prod him and say "sweetie, you're snoring, please roll over" and instead of grumbling or telling me to lump it he'd murmer "okay" give me a kiss, roll over and go back to sleep quietly. We have a huge duvet to deal with heat and blanket stealing/clamping issues. We've got a big bed and would like a bigger one. We've got a rule that if anyone's tossing and turning and can't sleep and the other person has to go to work/school, the restless one needs to get up and go someplace else. I've got earplugs on nights when the snoring doesn't stop. Not optimal, but keeps me from getting grouchy over something he can't really help. We're really lucky because there's basically one position we sleep in that works for both of us, causes very little limb numbness, and balances all these other little issues. We sleep the same way every single night, with seasonal blanket variations, and it works out okay.
posted by jessamyn at 6:35 AM on September 22, 2004

After the honeymoon is over, realize that it's not the end of the world if you spend the occasional night on the couch.
posted by bondcliff at 6:49 AM on September 22, 2004

Snoring: I occasionally snore, and the solution I've always demanded is that if I start snoring, simply whack me in the head. I swear it's caused me to snore less, and I've rarely woken up after being whacked, so it hasn't bothered me at all while still modifying my behavior.

Laughing/Talking: err, the only person I know that laughs in her sleep does it pretty quietly, and it's just ridiculously endearing to me, so I don't find that to be a problem. I might be highly predisposed to find odd things endearing, however.
posted by aramaic at 7:07 AM on September 22, 2004

My dad snores so loudly that it sounds like an earth-mover is trying to shift the house. (He once rattled a picture off of my wall.) While I can't comment on other sleeping conditions and situations (nor do I want to think about them...), I do know that after twenty years of trying to make it work my dad simply started sleeping in the guest bedroom. They've now made the situation permanent after the kids moved out and they bought a smaller house... they each have a bedroom or suite of rooms that suits their personal taste, and they no longer have to deal with each other's bad sleeping habits.
posted by SpecialK at 7:39 AM on September 22, 2004

Best answer: Earplugs are a godsend. I don't snore, but my wife is such a light sleeper that just about anything wakes her up - so earplugs has really saved her (and by extension, me).

We have a king sized bed, which I also consider a must - so much more room for both people to spread out and be comfortable. My wife and I usually cuddle every night until we get to the 'sleep now' point, at which we sleepily mumble 'good night' and roll to our separate sides. I love to cuddle, but need SPACE to sleep comfortably. A king size bed allows both very nicely. Do not get two twin beds, though - very uncomfortable and energetically divided.

Re the blankets, I recommend having one big blanket for the two of you and an extra blanket for her - on top, or at the foot of the bed or something. It's much, much easier to just grab the second blanket than it is to try to get the blankethog to give it up, especially in the middle of the night when crankiness is likely. I personally don't like the idea of having separate blankets - it interferes with cuddle time and creates a divided energy.
posted by widdershins at 9:59 AM on September 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

Waldo - Congratulations!

If your comfort levels demand different numbers of blankets, either you or your new sweetie needs to wear pajamas for additional warmth (while the other sleeps nude). If you're just a sheet/blanket thief in the night, try pinning them to the sides of the bed so you can't steal coverings in your sleep.

As for snoring - try 1) earplugs 2) dietary change 3) exercise 4) an operation for a deviated septum or 5) referencing snoring whgich - I bet - has showed up here as an individual question.
posted by troutfishing at 10:07 AM on September 22, 2004

1) White noise - good for sleeping adults, but bad for sleeping children. Helps reduce environmental noise and increase sleep performance.

2) King size bed. You won't use all of it, but I would go crazy without it.
posted by ewkpates at 10:14 AM on September 22, 2004

Husband is the first partner I've ever actually slept with. It was surprisingly easy from the first day night.

We use a queen and find it small enough to cuddle yet large enough to move apart to sleep. He's a blanket hog/snorer/heavy sleeper. I'm a talker/laugher/non-blanket hog/sometimes restless/medium sleeper. We use several blankets and when he's hogged most of them I can still find one if I (rarely) need it. When he is snoring enough to bug me (I usually sleep through it) I thump him and he quits. The nights I know I'm restless, I move out to the living room couch.
posted by deborah at 10:28 AM on September 22, 2004

Response by poster: Before posting this question, I spent quite some time trying to research this, and found precious little literature on what seems to be a difficult issue for many couples. For some, based on comments here, it can be come one of those festering problems that leads to other marital difficulties. I hope that all of this information will be useful for googlers yet to come.

In response to a few comments, I want to call up in my defense that neither of us are snorers and that she and I have, in fact, talked about this. :)
posted by waldo at 10:36 AM on September 22, 2004

My partner and I began sleeping together in a double bed and he made me promise that we would always sleep in a double bed. It took me a long time to get used sleeping so close-- especially since he likes holding onto me; one arm, one leg wrapped around me-- but after some months I became accustomed to it.

Now I wouldn't have it any other way.

We had a vacation room with a king size bed and hated it. We were too far away from each other when we were reading before going to bed. David wants to be able to touch me at all times.

I do have my own blanket, however. We share the sheet and light quilt, but I have a heavier quilt which I can use in the middle of the night.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:30 AM on September 22, 2004

If anyone on this thread does have a severe snoring problem, go get checked-it could save your life should it turn out you have sleep apnea.

Oh, and keeping the bedroom cool enough for snuggling is good. I like to snuggle with my husband if I am cold, but if it is warm he needs to back off. He's a lot bigger than me and throws off more body heat than a furnace...
posted by konolia at 11:41 AM on September 22, 2004

There's nothing wrong with NOT sleeping with your SO, if it turns out that you just don't sleep well with them. My husband snores sometimes, I thrash around sometimes. There are some nights when one or the other of us goes to the guest bedroom to sleep. Personally, I like sleeping together sometimes, but sometimes I like having a bed to myself (like when I'm sick, or have had a couple of nights of bad insomnia). I do think that people over-rate how important it is to sleep together - for some people, it's simply a lot more hassle than it's worth, and trying to force yourself to sleep with someone when you simply don't sleep well together is counter-productive. Well-rested couples are likely happier than exhausted ones, especially if the cause of your exhaustion is your inability to sleep with your partner. Nothing breeds (irrational) resentment like trying to sleep with someone who keeps you awake for one reason or another.

I think that having a bed big enough that you can choose to snuggle or not touch at all is probably very beneficial (my husband and I slept in a double bed for a while and while it was nice and all, it got very old very fast on the nights that we didn't feel like sleeping that close to each other - and I like to sprawl and feel trapped when I can't, and a double bed makes that nearly impossible). And I very much agree with the separate covers or at least oversized covers idea.

I guess my main point is that you don't have to make a big deal of it if it turns out that you can't always sleep well together every single night. It's not a sign that you're not compatible or don't love each other.

Oh, and congrats, waldo!
posted by biscotti at 12:26 PM on September 22, 2004

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