Please help me find a way to sleep comfortably in the same bed as my fiancee.
July 27, 2006 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find a way to sleep comfortably in the same bed as my fiancee.

She, at only five feet tall and under 100 pounds, is wreaking havoc on my life. I'm a nearly 6 foot tall, 200 lb man who has been reduced to less than five hours of sleep every night by cuddling.

Every night begins the same way. She falls asleep in the middle of the bed, diagonally across the bed, or in a fetal position perpendicular to the way I fit on the bed. When I crawl into bed, I ask her to move or straighten out, but she's asleep, so this doesn't usually yield a vast improvement. I stake my claim on some portion of bed, but not enough bed to be comfortable. Within minutes, she moves to cuddle. It was cute for awhile, but she might move her knees to cuddle the small of my back, or push me toward the edge with her ass, or smother me with an arm in the mouth.

Asking her to stop when she's asleep either wakes her up in a foul mood, which keeps me awake longer, or yields no results. The upshot is that I sleep with an arm and a leg hanging off a bed and she sleeps with enough empty space on the other side of her for me to be comfortable. However, if I move sides, she moves too. Over the years, it's gone from bad to worse with no improvement or clear route to improvement evident to me.

We've discussed getting a larger bed and been told by many people to get a larger bed, but I don't believe it would help. There would just be more empty space on her other side if our move from full to queen tells me anything. In fact, we've slept in king beds and the exact same thing happens.

Have you gone through something similar? How did you solve your sleeping woes?

For what it's worth, we have a several year old $400 pillow top bed. It's been suggested that a $400 queen size bed is of low quality and perhaps a higher quality bed might cause a marked improvement for both of us. However, it seems like no matter where we sleep, even if it's in different rooms, she has a sixth sense that tells her exactly how to disrupt my sleep.
posted by sequential to Health & Fitness (43 answers total)
Two single beds hooked together (or two single matresses on the same bed, if you can pull it off). That way it's uncomfortable to lie across the middle and you both have 'your side'.
posted by wackybrit at 8:04 AM on July 27, 2006

I was/am just like fiancee. The first thing we did was switch our sleeping schedules so they matched and we both got into bed together. This way he has a chance to grab his fair share of space before I nod off. Secondly, I now have a second pillow that I cuddle with. I need to hold something in order to sleep comfortable on my side or stomach. Thirdly, we have ten minutes of holding each other before we break apart and he has a chance to roll over. It usually fills my contact quota.
posted by Alison at 8:09 AM on July 27, 2006

two separate singles is a good idea; i've done it and it works well. or put the bed on a gentle slope away from your side; it's hard to fight a slope when you're asleep. or just agree some ground rules when you're both awake. anyway, welcome to the (proto-)married state.
posted by londongeezer at 8:10 AM on July 27, 2006

One immediate reaction is that it seems that your fiancee could take a more active position in sleeping closer to her side of the bed, or at least be sympathetic to her nocturnal sleep habits depriving you of space on the bed.

Two suggestions: Go buy one of those long thin pillows and place it as a soft comfy barrier between the both of you on the bed. Secondly, it seems like she goes to bed before you do. Is there a reason for this? Could you go to bed at the same time, and thus be better off "staking" out your required bed area?
posted by Atreides at 8:13 AM on July 27, 2006

It sounds like the two of you don't regularly head to sleep at the same time. My fiance and I are actually in a similar situation. We are on different schedules, he heads to bed 2-3 hours later than I do.

Often times when he comes to bed I am laying diagonally (I'm a sprawler too), and if he can't gently get me to move, sleeps in the other room. Most nights he sleeps in the other room anyway. On the weekends we always sleep together and go to bed at the same time. We have very few problems with space/boundries on these nights.

Have you tried heading to bed at the same time?
posted by o0ll0o.o0ll0o at 8:15 AM on July 27, 2006

separate your space with pillows. That's what I do.
posted by gaspode at 8:16 AM on July 27, 2006

Don't talk.

Gently push her in the direction you want her to move. She should roll over toward her side of the bed. If she seems to wake up or say anything when you are moving her, just say "Shhh, you're asleep, I love you," though for that matter nonsense syllables will work just as well. She won't remember it in the morning.

Or, if she does remember, you can consider those campy twin beds that Ricky and Lucy Ricardo had in their apartment.
posted by La Cieca at 8:16 AM on July 27, 2006

Best answer: Try a firmer mattress and a rigid bedframe. Since you're twice her size, you might be actually creating a slope in the mattress towards yourself, which she rolls down into.
posted by footnote at 8:20 AM on July 27, 2006

What La Cieca said...that's exactly what my fiance does when he tries to come to bed. :D
posted by o0ll0o.o0ll0o at 8:22 AM on July 27, 2006

Best answer: I use this for pregnancy support, but think it would help anyone needing something to snuggle up to: Snoogle. For me at least, it tends to reduce some of the flopping around in bed.
posted by justonegirl at 8:24 AM on July 27, 2006

I agree with the pillow advice. My wife surrounds herself with four pillows. It works well in restricting her to a more reasonable portion of the bed.
posted by daveleck at 8:26 AM on July 27, 2006

Separate beds.

Although my partner and I share a bed on the weekends at our respective houses, whenever we vacation we ask for rooms with separate beds. It is enormously helpful and results in better sleep for both of us. If we ever end up sharing a house, I'm going to suggest either the biggest king bed ever made or going the double bed route permanently. Yeah, it's sort of 50s, but who cares, really? It's easier to let those kinds of comments roll off your back if you're well rested because you've both had a good night's sleep.
posted by Cyrie at 8:27 AM on July 27, 2006

Hm, I think footnote's got a point. My husband is at least twice my size, weight-wise, and on soft mattresses I often feel pulled toward him/the middle of the bed. A firmer mattress might help keep her on her side.
posted by katie at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2006

Try a firmer mattress and a rigid bedframe. Since you're twice her size, you might be actually creating a slope in the mattress towards yourself, which she rolls down into.

Agreed. I think this is key. If she's that light, any unconscious movement she makes in her sleep will cause her to shift slowly toward you. So presumably if you had a reeeeeeally huge bed this wouldn't be an issue, but even in a king it's likely.

If the idea of a very firm mattress isn't appealing, I also suggest twin beds pushed together. If I remember correctly, two twins ought to fit together in a single king bedframe. You can still share a bed and snuggle for some requisite amount of time, but as long as each of you stays on your own side, your mattress displacement won't affect her.

Try extra pillows first, but if it's really a problem with gravity you'll just end up being edged out by a super-reinforced girl-pillow combo.
posted by miagaille at 8:45 AM on July 27, 2006

Same situation, not really solved - other than the fact that since having children I'm just about exhausted enough to sleep through someone pretty much lying directly atop me all night.

You're right in your assumption about the bigger bed I think. Ours is 6' wide and we still have room to take a lodger on her side of the bed most nights. :(
posted by bifter at 8:46 AM on July 27, 2006

Try a firmer mattress and a rigid bedframe. Since you're twice her size, you might be actually creating a slope in the mattress towards yourself, which she rolls down into.

I've had the exact same problem on some beds, except I'm the one who's annoyed by it, not my boy. A firmer bed helps, as does more "practice" sleeping together, although it seems like you two have been trying for a while.
posted by muddgirl at 8:52 AM on July 27, 2006

You can also get a King which has two separate single-sized segments of different firmnesses.
posted by unSane at 8:54 AM on July 27, 2006

Alternately, maybe a mattress made out of that memory foam stuff? That might absorb your displacement better than springs.

Another possible point - how controlled is the climate in your bedroom? I'm much more sensitive to temperature than my fiance, so in the winter, or in the summer when the AC is up, I smush up next to him because I'm cold. If she needs it, make sure she's adequately blanketed when you come to bed.
posted by miagaille at 8:57 AM on July 27, 2006

Also consider putting one side of the bed up against the wall, and you sleeping on that side. That way, she can only push you up to the wall, and not to the point where you're hanging off the bed. An interior wall if possible, since exterior walls can be damned cold when you're sleeping against them.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:01 AM on July 27, 2006

Some couples do better in separate beds.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:02 AM on July 27, 2006

I absolutely cannot sleep in the same bed as another person. If your partner is amicable to separate beds, give it a shot.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:03 AM on July 27, 2006

Get a bigger bed. My fiance and I tried a full size for a while when we first moved in together, and it was NOT FUN (the sleeping part, at least). We got a queen size very soon after. Our situation is similar to yours, where I'm the bed hog and he finds one position and rarely moves, and the larger bed gave me more room to roll around without disturbing him as much. Get thee to a Serta store, post haste.
posted by chiababe at 9:04 AM on July 27, 2006

I know this sounds harsh but: does she care? I mean, when my husband started sleeping with his arms over his head, which he would then jerk down into my face or the back of my head, he recognized this as unacceptable and it made him sad that he was hurting me and ruining my already pretty crappy sleep. It took him a couple of weeks to break the habit, and some crappy sleep as his vigilance was waking him up, but it stopped because it was important that it stop.

Anyway, if you won't get separate beds, get a king sized bed and give her a body pillow to cuddle. She's small enough that you can also put another body pillow (or one of the longer neck roll/bolster pillows, which take up less real estate) as a dividing line between you.

If I could put two queen or x-long double beds in one room, I'd totally do it. With an extra one to retreat to when the dogs pushed someone out of one.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:06 AM on July 27, 2006

I'm er... like Alison and like your fiancée. I've been all over the place on the bed but still think I'd be a bit insulted if my significant other got another bed.

We actually switched it up a bit so he could get more bed real estate: we added pillows to (as others have here) help me find body support and we also switched sides of the bed. I get the feeling most couples lay claim to 'their side' and when we switched, I was a bit disoriented falling asleep off 'my side' so I was more aware of where I was in the bed. He still gets an occasional leg across the land but it's easy for him to move that. Also, I was never insulted when the boy would nicely ask me to move over in the bed. A simple 'Baby, can you move over a bit," was enough to rouse me just enough to accommodate him. I don't understand why someone would find this offensive?
posted by eatdonuts at 9:14 AM on July 27, 2006

Every night begins the same way. She falls asleep in the middle of the bed, diagonally across the bed, or in a fetal position perpendicular to the way I fit on the bed.

Here's your problem right there. Why would someone fall asleep diagonally, in the middle of, or perpendicular to the long axis of the bed? Purposely. To increasingly detrimental results as time passes?

No offense, but that sounds astoundingly selfish on her part. Shouldn't it be enough that it's making you uncomfortable that she should at least make an earnest attempt to change her sleeping habits? The part where she does the same thing in king-size beds should also clue you in. Maybe there's a social solution to this problem.

Uh, similar to what Lyn Never said
posted by clearlynuts at 9:16 AM on July 27, 2006

Get a king size bed -- it will help. You haven't seen it on vacation because until your permanent bed is a king you won't have any kind of permanent change of habits. A king is big enough to have a psychologically meaningful amount of space to yourself on your side of the bed. After a while she'll settle down.

I wouldn't follow the separate beds advice. Sounds like your girl is on the touchy side, so that conversation might be really unpleasant.
posted by MattD at 9:26 AM on July 27, 2006

I had the same problem except my husband is the 6 foot 2 big guy and I am five feet tall.

I simply shoved him over. Not easy but I was motivated. He rarely woke up, or if he did it was momentary.

Now he's better at staying where he is put. It helps that he is hooked up to a cpap machine on his side.
posted by konolia at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2006

does she intentially fall asleep across the entire bed, or does she end up that way shortly? i'm 5' little and my boyfriend is 6'3 or so and i know i will take over the bed if i can. when i sleep in it alone, i'll keep rolling about taking up as much room as possible (it's a queen), but when he's in the bed, i usually either roll against him or hug the other edge.

going to bed at the same time would probably help. if you aren't sleepy yet, maybe read a book or surf a laptop or whatever? i know i fall alseep within a few minutes of putting my head on the pillow, but it takes my boyfriend a lot longer.

however, if your fiancee is purposely hogging the bed, you need to ask her about it. maybe she resents that you don't go to bed at the same time? maybe something else is bugging her. it could be passive aggressive.
posted by kendrak at 10:10 AM on July 27, 2006

Unfortunately you can't really change people, so unless (as mentioned) she garners a specific drive to modify her behavior you can expect it to continue. I used to sleep on my back for hours at a time and never roll over, this pattern continued for the majority of my life. Now that I sleep with a night-terror like yourself I have horrible quality sleep, wake up in foul moods with strings of expletives that I didn't realize I was uttering, and enjoy the unconscious elbow to the face now and again. The only thing I've ever been able to do successfully is grab the offending limb at two points - if it's the arm, grab the wrist and the elbow. Rotate it over their body, then roll them over. Pass out and enjoy the next half hour, rinse and repeat. I swear we're going to end up with campy twin beds that Ricky and Lucy Ricardo had in their apartment as La Cieca notes. Cuddling/spooning while sleeping is a product of romantic fiction and movies, there's no functional equivalent unless you desire acquiring a degenerative spinal disorder. For what it's worth, we nearly always go to bed at the same time. If she ever comes home drunk and passes at at three in the morning, be prepared for a whirlwind!
posted by prostyle at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2006

Dr. Ruth said don't confuse sleeping together with sex. You go to bed to get some sleep. Separate beds is the way. Unless you are into the spontanious possibilities that occur by only sleeping in the same bed. nudge nudge wink wink.
posted by Gungho at 10:48 AM on July 27, 2006

I'm with the pillow people. I am a sprawler unless I have my arms wrapped around my favorite pillow (I call it "Professor Squish" because I'm a dork and it's nice and squishy). I've also noticed that if my fiance goes to bed before me, he'll steal Professor Squish and wrap HIS arms around it.

I'd get your fiancee a really nice body pillow to snuggle up with.
posted by tastybrains at 10:52 AM on July 27, 2006

This magically stopped for us a while back, and while I'm not certain what actually caused it, here are some possible causes:

- I became much more willing to simply push her over to her side, as forcefully as required. Don't make verbal requests, just nudge at first, and if that gets no response, manually relocate her as necessary. If she vocalizes, just burble/comfort back at her. She has never complained about this procedure after waking up.
- The pillow-in-between definitely made things a little more comfortable, and may have helped with the programming.
- Our mattress developed a hill in the middle and depressions on either side. This is where your inexpensive mattress may be a benefit, and the depressions may be reproducible by rotating the mattress instead of flipping it.
- Relationship issues that may have reduced the desire to cuddle. (I do not recommend this method.)
- I myself have been programmed to not sleep diagonally/excessively sprawled/etc.
- I have vicious toenails that draw blood.
posted by trevyn at 11:27 AM on July 27, 2006

Every time she cuddles you, wake her up and initiate sex. She'll stop.
posted by nicwolff at 11:51 AM on July 27, 2006 [6 favorites]

my gal is a sprawler. bro, she's worse than your fiancee. i changed my sex habits. i'm a morning/middle of day guy. when i finally lay down, all o wanna do is sleep. maybe it was my time in the army, but when i lay down to sleep, all i want to do is sleep. i switched it up and we started hooking up at night. backrubs, laying together, that sort of thing. when she's relaxed and settled down for the night, i get out of bed. i'm still up til 3am cuz i'm a night owl and an anime freak. but since i've tried this new tactic - one is put to sleep, she rarely moves anymore. i know it sounds like a hassle to change that much. but laying with her a few nights a week might change her habits. my gal is actually taller than i am (i'm 5'10, she's 5,11), so i had to either change my night time habits or tap out and accept sleeping on the couch. just that god your girl isnt as long as you are, now THAT is an unbelievable hassle.

and the constant sex is great too.

good luck!
posted by Davaal at 11:52 AM on July 27, 2006

I have vicious toenails that draw blood.

ha! i know that's an ongoing battle between me and my boyfriend (with both of us cutting the other from time to time). i know when he somehow knicked me (his feet hang off the bed usually) i woke up and rolled over to my side.
posted by kendrak at 11:53 AM on July 27, 2006

I agree with the different bed thing. I think there is too much pressure and people believe (possibly even your fiance) that there is something wrong with you if you don't sleep in the same bed as your partner. This is silly, what works for you, works for you. There are too many "one spouse on the couch" couples because neither are willing to acknowledge that maybe its okay to sleep seperately.

Of course, my husband and I both have parents that slept seperately (mine being the in denial couch people, his being the fully okay with it two seperate bed couple). So it was just the natural choice for us.

I also kick in my sleep. Violently.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:19 PM on July 27, 2006

Memory foam. There's much less traveling on it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:13 PM on July 27, 2006

I've started curling up in a big fetal ball and I really need a lot of human comfort when I am falling asleep. I think I keep him up at night, so I should probably get a big pillow myself to hug.

He tends to sleep on his stomach, so when he rolls onto his stomach, I generally roll away from him. It's impossible to curl up into his arms then.
posted by onepapertiger at 1:48 PM on July 27, 2006

Response by poster:
I really need a lot of human comfort when I am falling asleep.
Thanks for pointing this out, I overlooked it in my haste to post. As far as human contact goes, she needs a lot and I thoroughly enjoy doting it on her at every comfortable possibility. When I crawl into bed and am not exhausted or spiteful from the night before, and I don't generally carry the grudge past the morning cuddles or what have you, I spoon her.

But that's never enough. If I despoon, WHAM. She's on me like apples to Newton's head. It's just unbelievable how reliable it is.

Then I get back to why she's in need of so much comfort and I feel guilty. Is it her long work week? Mine? Her family? Her social life? What? Then I'm reminded of why I put up with this for five years: I love her and if all she wants is some comfort, what's wrong with me for finding it painful? (That's not exactly accurate. I usually wonder why she has to find the most painful positions for me the most comforting for her.)

To help solve my discomfort and her wandering ways, we've decided to go bed shopping. We find memory foam like sleeping in coffins, so that's a no go, but a high quality mattress on a platform bed may help quite a bit. Before we decide on a bed, a sequential-shaped pillow is in order, so we'll be taking our pile of 20% off coupons to LNT and picking out a suitable pillow-me.

Thanks for all of your responses. It always amazes me how touching, honest, and occasionally hysterical it is to have you all answer my questions.
posted by sequential at 2:15 PM on July 27, 2006

Best answer: Been there, done that.

I like a soft bed and my wife likes a firm bed. On a soft bed she tended to roll towards me.

We picked up a Sleep Number bed from Select Comfort. She has her side set to 85 (very firm) and mine is somewhere in the 35-50 range (soft to normal). She stays on her side and I stay on mine.

For the twin bed options above, a twin long bed is 1/2 of a king sized bed. If you went with two twin long beds placed next to each other, if would essentially be a king sized bed. You could use regular king sized bedding and still have a bed 'together'.

Try the pillows and see if that works. Some Hotels have Sleep Number beds and Memory Foam beds. You can try them out for a night or two while you are out and decide if one will work for you...

Good Luck
posted by Leenie at 4:05 PM on July 27, 2006

MY bf and I have this problem except that he's the cuddler and due to his bogger size and my ability to sleep thorugh almost anything he has pushed me entirely off the bed in the past. Twice.

I'm pretty sure that our problem is temperature related. He's always cold, I'm always hot and so he cuddles for warmth. Getting a giant comforter that allows him to wrap himself up like a mummy helped a lot, but the main thing was switching sides so that I am by the open window or the fan and he is on the hot interior wall. He reacts to cold air like a vampire does to garlic so it keeps him on his side. It's great.
posted by fshgrl at 9:53 PM on July 27, 2006

If that doesn't work I just pinch him. That works.
posted by fshgrl at 9:54 PM on July 27, 2006

Response by poster: We still haven't found a bed, but since posting this we discovered our box spring has collapsed middle supports, so the whole bed actually sags in the middle. We're intent on replacing the box spring with a platform in the very near future.

To tide us over we picked up a Boppy 24/7 Body Pillow. It's not exactly me-shaped, but it does the job. We also picked up a Memory Foam Mattress Topper, which, despite the bad reviews, is actually quite comfortable and helps prevent some of the rolling without feeling like the whole memory foam beds.

Thanks again for all of your help.
posted by sequential at 9:44 PM on July 28, 2006

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