NEW YORK – While researchers are still exploring the science of sharing a bed, we’ve dug into a few studies and asked behavioral and social scientist Dr. Wendy M. Troxel to help us decode our sleep habits and provide helpful tips.
First, we asked her about what problems her patients bring to her practice. It’s a bit like couples therapy, as it turns out.
“The first thing is that if one or both members has a sleep problem, the sleep problem becomes a shared problem,” says Troxel. “Snoring is probably the biggest culprit. The partner is the person who usually brings the other person in for treatment for snoring. Usually, it’s the bed partner who’s fed up with not sleeping on a nightly basis!”
Not surprisingly, sleep problems often lead to intense strife among couples.
“In cases of [insomnia],” she says, “I often hear from patients that they are jealous and even angry at their bed partners. The person might say, ‘He can sleep through anything! Why am I not sleeping?’”
The good news? Based on her research, Troxel has found that partners can overcome biological obstacles through open communication. While couples who have clashing sleeping preferences experience more conflict, lower satisfaction, and less intimacy, the opposite is true if both parties have good problem-solving skills.
As Troxel says: “Couples who can navigate issues at night are most likely to be able to navigate them during the day, and vice versa.”
While we’re not here to analyze your relationship, we can shed some light on some of the sleep issues plaguing our nation and provide you with practical solutions.
The bottom line? Sleep partners will always have their biological differences, but a conversation with your partner will help you sleep better while sleeping together. In partnership with Sleep Number, we present an overview of our findings.