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March 24, 2013 8:00 AM   Subscribe

My husband is sleep-copping, and it's waking me up. Help us fix it!

I'm stumped as to my wonderful, kind, gentle, amazing, almost-perfect husband's recent habit of copping a quick feel in his sleep. We have been together for five years, married for two and a half, and this is brand new, starting a few weeks after we brought our baby home from the hospital two months ago. A few times a week, I will be awakened by a clumsy hand on my breast or sometimes my butt. If I shove his hand away or say "not now", he apologizes and rolls over. He has no idea what I'm talking about when I mention it the next day - I truly believe he is totally asleep during these episodes.

Obviously having a new baby has taken its toll on our sex life and the amount of sleep we're getting. We are and have always been pretty handsy with each other while awake; that hasn't changed. Right now I go to bed a few hours before him so he puts the baby to sleep and then I take the overnight shift. We are each getting almost enough sleep, but mine is very fragmented. It's not the groping that bothers me, but being woken up - it always seems to happen right in the middle of what would otherwise have been a nice two to three hour snooze.

Any ideas for how to get him to knock it off until the baby is sleeping through the night? Or - it just occurred to me while writing this that maybe it has happened for much longer, but I slept through it and am now waking up because I'm sleeping lighter due to the baby. So suggestions for me to sleep deeper while still waking up at any noise from the baby would also be nice.

We're trying to get our sex life back on track (that's important to both of us) and we prefer to share a bed. No DTMFA talk please - this is annoying but absolutely not a dealbreaker.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Since it's happening in his sleep, I wonder if a simple make-shift barrier would deter him. Maybe a body pillow between the two of you?
posted by kimdog at 8:07 AM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Can you temporarily set up a new snooze station for yourself? I know sleeping apart is counterintuitive when you're trying to get your sex life ramped back up, but if you're getting better quality sleep you're going to feel like having sexytimes more often. Plus, you'll be less resentful of the sleeping grope.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:08 AM on March 24, 2013

Is your bed big enough to sleep farther apart and shove a body pillow between you?
posted by slow graffiti at 8:08 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is something he can't control--the body goes through cycles of arousal naturally (yours, too!) which don't stop during sleep. The best solution, I think, would be to either have a quickie before bed (if you're feeling up to it) or ask him to go masturbate before bedtime. Depleting the sexual reserves might help to ensure a grope-free night.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

My wife jokes about the barrier of pillows i put between us after she falls asleep each night. She tends to take up most of the bed, and even after getting a king size, I'd be relegated to a 2 foot strip or suffer through overthrown arms and legs all night. The barrier really helps and we both can sleep well through the night.

I think two months was about the length of time my wife and I started fooling around again after we had our kid, but that varies for everyone. I didn't really start sleeping deeply, though, for at least a year, since I was mainly responsible for the night shift.
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:57 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Suspect the second option is the most likely, my hand ends up on my boyfriend's chest during the night and it's not like he's got anything there to grope! It's just that my arm is a fixed length and that's where it ends.

I think the best thing you can hope for is to stay more separate while asleep. How old is your mattress? An older, saggy mattress will tend to roll you towards one another, especially if you don't always remember to rotate it regularly. You can replace it, or you can replace it by pushing two twin beds together so that you'll each tend to roll into "your" side.
posted by anaelith at 9:06 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

My guess is his behavior has not changed, but you are sleeping more shallowly to maintain an awareness of what's going on with your baby.
posted by jamjam at 9:07 AM on March 24, 2013 [21 favorites]

Even asleep, we have some control; you don't fall off your bed. When it happens, say sharply Stop it, That's not okay. Talk to him and make sure he knows it really bugs you. Those 2 things may be enough for his brain to keep better boundaries.

That it's a function of your lighter sleep is quite possible, also, your family is experiencing (happy) change and stress, so this may be how his brain is coping, so maybe give it a little time.
posted by theora55 at 10:04 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

My wife and I use a body pillow to keep us separate for temperature reasons and it both effective and takes up less room then you'd think because one or both of us ends up draped on the pillow. Basically it acts like a little speed bump that discourages full body cuddling. We only have a double bed but neither of us move around much.
posted by Mitheral at 10:33 AM on March 24, 2013

I'm not sure if this would work for you, but perhaps you could have sex when he cops a feel? It might help both of you sleep better, bring you closer together, and make the baby blues a bit easier.

Then, maybe he can get up with the baby... ;)
posted by 3491again at 4:37 PM on March 24, 2013

Friends of mine used a pool noodle under the sheets to stop each other from taking more than their fair share of bed space. Worked like a charm and didn't take up much space!
posted by sadtomato at 9:59 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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