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9 Ways Sharing a Bed Can Ruin Your Sleep
Senior Sleep Therapist, Robyn Fowler, was invited to appear on 4BC Radio Brisbane recently. The topic was 9 ways sharing a bed can ruin your sleep. However, the discussion quickly turned to snoring (being one of the top complaints and an area Robyn is an expert in).
As Robyn points out "snoring is more than just an annoying and embarrassing problem. Snoring is a clear indication of an impaired airway."
The reality is, snoring is a form of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) – and SDB is a legislated 'notifiable condition' in most states of Australia, which gives some idea of how serious the condition is considered to be.
While snoring is not a particularly severe form of SDB, it is still known to have negative impacts on sleep quality, blood pressure, cardiac health and many other things ... plus it has a negative impact on the snorer's relationships and their partner (as highlighted in the discussed news article).
Nonetheless, the gold standard practice to determine the severity of any sleep disorder is by way of a professional diagnostic sleep study (polysomnogram). Sleep studies are now available in the convenience and privacy of your own home, Australia wide. A sleep study will ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment is prescribed, improving your quality of life and relationships with loved ones (not only those who share your bed!)
Other common complaints with sharing a bed are simple habits that can be resolved if proactively addressed. If you do not see an improvement after 3 weeks of full compliance, contact us on 1300 246 637 or by using a CONTACT US form from this website for a confidential chat (obligation free).
In the meantime, try these tips for better bed sharing:
1. A Partner Who is Hooked on the Snooze Button
Someone who constantly hits the snooze button, believing 5 more minutes of sleep will be beneficial, is deluding themselves.
Sleep is prompted by natural cycles of activity in the brain and consists of two basic states:
rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and
non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.
NREM sleep moves through 4 progressively deeper stages:
Stage 1: Sleep study (polysomnography) readings show a reduction in activity between wakefulness and stage 1 sleep. The eyes are closed and a person can be awakened without difficulty. However, if aroused, a person may feel as if he or she has not slept. Stage 1 may last for five to 10 minutes. Many may notice the feeling of falling during this stage of sleep, which may cause a sudden muscle contraction (called hypnic myoclonia).
Like a person who suffers sleep disordered breathing (snoring and/or sleep apnoea - see diagram 1) a person who constantly hits 'snooze' is only allowing themselves several light micro-sleeps, no deeper than NREM stage 1. This results in a feeling of tiredness in the morning although they may think they've slept in.
(Diagram 1. Sleep apnoea. A blocked airway due to the soft tissue collapsing while asleep; reducing oxygen intake. Fight or flight response releases hormones to arouse and resume breathing. A SDB sufferer will seldom progress past NREM stage 1. with apnoeic episodes repeated well over 100 times during the night.)
Stage 2: This is a period of light sleep during which sleep study readings show intermittent peaks and valleys, or positive and negative waves. These waves indicate spontaneous periods of muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation. The heart rate slows and the body temperature decreases. At this point, the body prepares to enter deep sleep.
Stages 3 and 4: These stages are known as slow-wave, or delta, sleep. They are both deep sleep stages, with stage 4 being more intense than Stage 3. If aroused from sleep during these stages, a person may feel disoriented for a few minutes.
Each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes. A completed cycle of sleep consists of a progression from stages 1-4 before REM sleep is attained, then the cycle starts over again.
Sit down with your partner and agree to a consistent time for sleep. It's important to set a regular sleep pattern so you can both receive deep restorative sleep. As opposed to several early morning microsleeps which will leave you feeling tired during the day.
Further reading: Quantity vs Quality - How much sleep do you really need
2. They Watch TV in Bed
Ban the TV (and devices) from the bedroom. It's important once you have agreed with your partner on regular sleeping hours that you also allow for time to wind down before lights-out (1 hour). This relaxes you, preparing your mind and body for sleep, allowing the sleep cycle of REM and NREM stages to occur naturally. Resulting in deep restorative quality sleep.
The only concession we'd allow is for leisurely reading from a Tablet or iPad before lights-out. Ensure that you shut-off the device before sleep as recharging lights etc. can trick the brain into thinking it's light. Audible notification chimes from your device can also disturb sleep.
3. They Snore
Before you move to separate rooms, contact us here at Sleep Clinic Services by either calling 1300 246 637 or filling-in a CONTACT US form from this website. One of our professional Sleep Therapists will be happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss available treatment options available to you, obligation free.
4. They Hog the Covers
Sleep-conducive bedrooms are dark, quiet and cool with comfortable blankets and pillows. If you find your partner constantly 'hogging' the bedding, consider dressing your bed with two sets of sheets and blankets. This way, you can select what bedding suits you both for your respective needs.
In extreme cases, consider pushing two separate beds together.
5. They're a Snuggler and You're Not
Not all of us are snugglers. A warm body with arms and legs flung over you can leave some people feeling suffocated and generally uncomfortable. While others take it personally if their partner doesn't reciprocate with cuddles of their own.
The best thing to do is be upfront and honest with the snugglers in our lives (and bed). Simply explain that you feel uncomfortable during the night and find it hard to get good uninterrupted sleep. And remind them that good sleep will make you a better partner.
Also, use the agreed wind-down time (1 hour before lights-out) to reconnect and talk quietly with each other after a long day. This extra attention will help the snuggler still feel appreciated.
6. They're a Night Owl (or an Early Bird) and you're not
If you're an early bird, be sure to turn the alarm off ASAP and leave the bedroom to get ready for the day, leaving your bed partner's dark and quiet sleep environment intact. Alternately, night owls shouldn't expect to do other activities in the bedroom late at night after a bed partner has hit the hay.
Once again, take these personal habits into consideration when setting your regular sleep schedule.
7. They Can't Sleep
"If you're in bed for 15 or 20 minutes and not sleeping, you should get out of bed and even leave the bedroom," says Ilene Rosen, M.D., program director for the University of Pennsylvania Sleep Fellowship, who serves on the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
"It may sound counterintuitive, but it's actually a mainstay of insomnia treatment, and it benefits you both. It will help the person having insomnia to not be frustrated and allow for the bed partner who may already be sleeping to continue sleeping."
The bed partner who can't sleep should spend some time doing a calm activity without much bright light until they feel tired enough to try turning in again.
8. They Act Out Their Dreams
"Acting out dreams in bed ... can be a sign of REM behaviour disorder (RBD)," says Rosen. RBD is a sleep condition that includes a lack of the typical muscle paralysis most healthy sleepers experience during REM sleep.
RBD can display in shouting, hitting and even getting out of bed. it can also become dangerous, both for the dreamer and the bed partner, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Successful treatment of RBD starts with an in home diagnostic sleep study.
9. They're an Animal (literally)
30 per cent of pet owners who say they share a bed with their furry friends report waking up at least once a night, according to 2014 research. Pets in bed also bring with them any dust, pollen or other particles collected throughout their daytime adventures, exposing you to possible allergic reactions overnight.
If you do not see an improvement after 3 weeks of full compliance, contact us on 1300 246 637 or by using a CONTACT US form from this website for a confidential chat (obligation free).
If you snore or know someone who does, it's worth checking out how serious your condition really is. A complimentary Sleep Disorder Self Assessment is a great way to find out whether you have a significant SDB condition. Alternatively, you can call 1300 246 637 for a free, no obligation chat with one of our professional Sleep Therapists.
One way or the other, the important thing is to do something. SDB rarely improves and usually gets worse over time – so find out now whether you need to do something to minimise the negative impacts on your health, wellbeing and relationships, today.
DISCLAIMER - INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS ARTICLE IS GENERAL IN CONTENT AND SHOULD NOT BE SEEN AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE.
*Common complaints and advice contributed by Ilene Rosen, M.D., program director for the University of Pennsylvania Sleep Fellowship, who serves on the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.