how to share a bed with a restless sleeper?
December 5, 2015 5:23 AM   Subscribe

I've been sharing a queen-sized bed with someone who is very restless at night: tosses and turns, clutches at parts of my body, sometimes flops an arm or a leg down on top of me hard enough to wake me up, slowly migrates backwards across the bed and almost tries to burrow through me. The best we've found so far is to sleep head to toe, with separate blankets, but I still wake up once or more every night. Any other ideas to try, before we go to separate beds?
posted by d. z. wang to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Some people find a body pillow in between them helps keep the restless person in place, and gives them something else to clutch in the night.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:36 AM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

A pool noodle under the sheet (in a KING size bed).
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:36 AM on December 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

My girlfriend is a fairly restless sleeper but after a few months of cohabitation we both...adjusted? I think she twitches less and I am more able to sleep through whatever she's doing. So I guess as a datapoint: sometimes this does sort of fix itself over time.
posted by dismas at 5:52 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

sometimes when i'm trying to solve things i get a bit fixated about making everything right, and it takes my latin culture partner to remind me that perfect is the enemy of good. you may already have improved this significantly from the problem you had, and waking once or twice a night may not be so bad - you could be waking in the "light sleep" parts of the night, when you're close to awake anyway, and the only reason this is feeling so bad is because you're used to losing so much sleep.

so one solution might be to try changing your mindset a bit. if you can get into thinking these last few wakings are not such a big deal, you may then also find that you can get back to sleep quickly and easily, with little effect on the whole night's sleep.

not trying to dismiss your problem here, just suggesting that you may still be responding to the more serious problem you had, when you're now at a point where a light solution could be good enough.
posted by andrewcooke at 5:53 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

If a plain body pillow doesn't work, look into the kind that are big weird loopy shapes, or all encompassing giant U shapes. These are pretty expensive but less than a second mattress. They're advertised for pregnant people but I can't imagine they would be somehow less comfy for someone who wasn't.
posted by Mizu at 6:09 AM on December 5, 2015

My spouse did all of these things. I'd wake up half hanging off my side of the bed with him sleeping shoved right up against me, and have to wake him up to tell him to move back over. We got a king size bed and that has totally fixed it. I highly recommend it.

You can get king-size mattresses at much better prices online than in stores -- we got ours from Casper and have been very happy, and I know others who have gotten theirs from Tuft & Needle and been happy, to name a couple of options. (Casper ships to the US and Canada, Tuft & Needle to the US only.)

You can even put it on the floor if a new bed frame isn't in the budget right now. (Ours is currently on the floor.)
posted by snowmentality at 6:20 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm using a pregnancy pillow right now and it pretty effectively keeps me from moving during the night. And it's comfy!
posted by chaiminda at 6:42 AM on December 5, 2015

King size bed improved my life/sleep dramatically.
posted by mskyle at 6:51 AM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing the King size bed, which is the only size bed Mr. gudrun and I can comfortably share. However, even with that, the long term solution for us was to have two single beds pushed together. That way we each have our own space and covers, though we are still right next to each other. It is not ideal, especially if you like to sleep spooned together, but Mr. gudrun is too restless a sleeper (and too much of a cover hog in his sleep) for us to share a bed all the time, even a King.

One thing to think about ... Mr. gudrun was tested and diagnosed with sleep apnea. Once he started using a CPAP machine, that really cut down on how much he moved around in his sleep. He still moves way more than me, but the CPAP definitely helps him sleep better, which cuts down on his moving around.
posted by gudrun at 7:52 AM on December 5, 2015

King size bed FTW.
posted by arnicae at 8:53 AM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm the restless sleeper in this scenario, and (if you can afford it) a king sized bed with an adjustable bed frame was what worked for me. Turns out I was moving all night trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. I used to have upwards to ten pillows on my bed before I met the hubs to try and get into a good sleeping position. Now that I can raise my head and/or feet, I can pretty much sleep in one position all night. Not always... but enough. Now it's him that keeps me up with his snoring... but that's a different story. ^_^
posted by patheral at 11:50 AM on December 5, 2015

I am the calm sleeper, when Mr. Guess What sleeps he impersonates a flaily rotisserie chicken.

What has helped:
1) If he gets enough exercise during the day to be completely zonked at night. This is key. Somehow "exercise tired" vs "brain tired" does wonders.

2) Large, squishy body pillow for him. He can thrash around with that all night. In travelling instances where he can't bring it, I definitely get squeezed/rolled on more. However, if you are a big person and your bedmate is bigger, too, the body pillow can be a bit of a space hog.

3)KING BED. We currently have a full/double...but when we splurge on a hotel room or something...magic.
posted by Guess What at 12:42 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

This seems like it is not common knowledge, but you can get a king sized bed that is really two twin beds attached to a king sized headboard and covered with king sized sheets and other bedding so it all looks like one bed but isn't really. This means that most of the bouncing around and what not doesn't really impact the other partners side of the bed.

This might be a happy medium between sleeping in physically separate beds/rooms and just suffering through.
posted by Michele in California at 2:29 PM on December 5, 2015

Is it important that you both sleep in the same bed? I came to the realization that I hate sharing a bed with someone on a long-term basis, it doesn't say anything about the health of the relationship, and it can be pretty sexy to "go visit" the other bed.

Sleep is too important to put up with substandard sleep for the rest of your life.
posted by Automocar at 6:42 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I suggest a variation on the sidecar bed: two twin mattresses side by side, but the restless sleeper's side is placed
4" or so lower than the other. The restless sleeper can't roll on to the higher placed mattress.
posted by Puddle Jumper at 9:05 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

My husband and I are both absolutely horrid sleepers. Neither of us was ever any good at the one night stand thing before we met each other, because we both snore, kick and talk in our sleep. Initially we slept in different beds and couldn't do sleep overs. Once we got an amazing latex mattress, where you can't feel the other person's wailing and gnashing of teeth, this was at least possible. However, we sleep better apart. It's so great to just starfish out on a bed of your own. And showing up to the other person's bed is a definite thrill.
posted by sweltering at 2:20 AM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

But definitely try a good mattress and see what happens - larger and better. We tried Weston beds at their hotels. Tripadvisor is a good way to figure out which hotel has what kind of beds, too.
posted by sweltering at 2:21 AM on December 6, 2015

If you have the resources to afford separate beds or separate rooms, do it.

Sleep is too important.

Husbunny and I sleep in separate rooms. I get 8 hours a night. It's fantastic!

Sleeping in one bed together isn't romantic in and of itself.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:56 AM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am the person you share a bed with. If you're currently on a spring mattress, you might try foam/latex or other alternatives that are less bouncy.
posted by benbenson at 4:19 PM on December 6, 2015

N-thing the king size bed. One thing no one has mentioned: any chance the restless sleeper has apnea? Even if they don't snore, if the restless sleeper is not feeling rested in the morning, you should consider a sleep study. Anecdote: my partner twitched and talked in his sleep like crazy before getting diagnosed with apnea and using a cpap. (He also snored like a bear, but the twitchiness also went away.)
posted by purple_bird at 11:50 AM on December 7, 2015

According to many partners, I sleep like an angry shark. The only good solution I found was separate beds or different sleep schedules.

Seriously, love doesn't happen while you're asleep.
posted by culfinglin at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

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