By Piyali Syam, Google Author
Do your partner’s early bird ways clash with your night owl habits? Birds of a feather may flock together, but when it comes to relationships, a night owl may get mismatched with an early bird. Sleep schedules probably aren’t the first thing you thought of when committing to your partner, but your bedtime is a more important part of the equation than you’d think.
Partners with similar sleeping habits tend to have more compatible lifestyles, while partners who are out of sync can suffer certain from side effects, such as a less active sex life, less relationship satisfaction, and few meaningful conversations.
But if you and your partner are on different sleep cycles, it’s not all doom and gloom! The good news is that there are actionable steps you can take to avoid the pitfalls of being on different sleep schedules.
Here are some tips:
#1 Be Considerate
Sleep schedules are tied to innate biological circadian rhythms, which is why it’s so difficult to change your sleep preferences. Therefore, instead of trying to change your partner, just accept your differences, and accommodate each other as much as you can. Being respectful of each other’s sleep schedules is key to keeping things running smoothly.
If you’re an early riser, try to leave the room quietly and keep the house quiet until your spouse eventually wakes up. If you’re a night owl, try not to bring your laptop or iPad into the bedroom to keep your partner up past his or her bedtime.
Generally, keeping television outside of the bedroom is a good idea. Disregarding your partner’s sleep schedule is a surefire way to get in a fight—and sleep-deprived people tend to be especially cranky.
#2 Try Sleeping Apart
This might seem like a surprising suggestion, but sleep is, ultimately a physical necessity which has to be respected and tended to just as any other bodily need. If your sleep schedules are several hours apart and your sleep is significantly disturbed by your partner moving around when you are trying to sleep, consider sleeping apart, maybe in different rooms.
However, be sure to have a talk with your partner first, and make sure that this a decision on which you both agree before trying it. Sleeping apart can be a sensitive topic, and so it’s important to be honest and communicate about why you are making this decision in order to avoid hurt feelings.
This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice pillow talk – or sex! Make an effort to fit in some special extra “you and me” time into your waking hours.
Think of it this way: it’s the time you spend in bed together awake, rather than asleep, that really counts. So make sure that if you are sleeping apart, you make quality time together a priority.
#3 Make Compromises
Having mismatched sleep schedules can cut into the time you have as a couple. For couples with children especially, the small window of time after they go to bed or before they wake up in the morning may be the only ‘couple’s time’ you have.
Agreeing to mix up your sleep schedules on occasion can yield valuable fruit for your relationship. Staying up for a late-night deep talk after you’ve put the kids to bed, or waking up early on a Saturday morning to enjoy a romantic sunrise, might make it worthwhile to sacrifice a bit of sleep.
Also, there’s no rule that says couples’ time has to be during mornings or late nights, especially if you share activities during peak daytime hours instead. It’s hard to share a morning jog with a partner who can’t get out of bed before noon—but there’s no reason you can’t have a weekend lunch together!
If you and your partner are finding that differing sleep schedules are interfering with your relationship, couple therapy can be an effective solution. PARC’s compassionate, highly trained therapists are here to help.