- This article has been written and medically reviewed by Darshan Shingala (M.D, MPH) – a qualified and practicing medical doctor – for maximum factual accuracy and reliability.
I’ve always found it difficult to sleep with a bed partner.
This is mainly due to me not being able to sleep due to the other person tossing and turning, snoring, and even talking in their sleep!
But as much as I enjoy sleeping alone, it’s not great for the relationship to sleep in separate beds in my experience.
Scientific studies have shown that sleeping together can make you feel better by releasing mood-boosting hormones like oxytocin and serotonin; whilst also helping to improve sleep quality and strengthen the relationship.
Therefore, sleeping together as a couple is important and has many benefits.
But it’s not without its challenges too.
So how do you get better sleep if you have difficulty falling asleep next to someone?
The best ways to sleep better as a couple are to sleep on a mattress with excellent motion isolation properties to dampen movements; opt for a split mattress firmness if you have contrasting sleeping styles; have a shared sleep routine; and block out noises with earplugs.
The rest of this article expands on these points to give you 9 actionable strategies to help you both sleep together better as a couple.
Although this article has been written by a qualified medical doctor with many years of professional experience, you should always talk to your own doctor for the best advice if your insomnia continues or you are experiencing any adverse health issues.
What’s the best mattress for couples? I personally think that the Puffy Lux Hybrid is the best mattress for couples because it absorbs shock waves, is silent, and super comfortable for a wide range of sleeping styles. Click here to read my first-hand review and save $300.
9 Ways to Sleep Better as a Couple
It is perfectly normal to have different sleeping behavior and needs in comparison to your partner.
However, it can be quite a struggle to sleep comfortably with your partner if you fail to adapt to each other’s different sleep needs and preferences while tackling the sleep-associated problems which you both may encounter together.
To say the least, it can be quite a bit of hard work.
To address the magnitude of the problem, expert researchers have conducted several sleep studies with very interesting findings – as detailed below:
Relationship Problems and Children Can Negatively Affect Sleep
Most studies have concluded that relationship problems and sleep problems tend to co-occur and co-exist amongst most couples (1).
Research has shown that due to persistent sleep problems among partners, around twelve percent of married couples prefer to sleep alone (2).
The dynamics of sleeping tend to change drastically among couples with children as compared to couples without children.
For instance, more than twelve percent of adults with children tend to sleep with their child instead of their partner, and more than eighty percent of these adults were discovered to have sleep problems (2).
Some studies have also found that the quality of sleep is also linked to a couple’s marital satisfaction.
For instance, adults who reported lower marital satisfaction were more likely to develop sleep problems such as insomnia and daytime sleepiness, when compared to the control group (2).
There have also been extensive clinical researches to explore the science and potential associations between marital relationships, snoring, and sleep apnea.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Can Reduce Sleep Quality
The studies showed that around one-third of the adults tended to snore up to a few times per week.
Frequent loud snoring can sometimes also be a symptom of sleep apnea, which is a serious medical disorder.
In addition to loud snoring, sleep apnea patients can experience many symptoms which can add to their struggle of sleeping with their partner, such as decreased libido, occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation, and mood changes (3).
You can try to implement the following 9 effective tips in order to obtain a better night’s sleep while sharing the bed with your partner:
1: Choose a Mattress With Excellent Motion Isolation
If the main cause of your disrupted sleep is your bed partner tossing and turning at night then the most effective solution is to buy a new mattress with excellent motion isolation properties so that the shock waves are absorbed by the mattress and felt less by you.
I personally recommend the Puffy Lux Hybrid mattress for restless couples because the thick layers of memory foam and polyfoam combine with the individually wrapped coils to dampen movements exceptionally well.
When I slept on the Puffy Lux Hybrid mattress with my partner, I was unable to feel her moving around during the night and because the coils are individually encased, I couldn’t hear the springs creaking like I often do in a regular spring mattress.
Furthermore, I also found the Puffy Lux Hybrid to be exceptionally comfortable in the side and back sleeping positions.
2: Buy a Split Firmness Mattress for Differing Sleeping Styles
If either you or your bed partner can’t sleep together comfortably because you each have contrasting sleeping styles then the best solution is to buy a mattress that has a ‘split’ level of firmness – where each half of the mattress has a different level of firmness to cater for each sleeping style.
For example, if you are a lighter-weighted side sleeper under 150 lbs then you’ll need a softer mattress so that you can sink more deeply into the materials to alleviate the pressure points on your hips and shoulders.
However, buying such a mattress with a softer level of firmness would likely cause compatibility issues if your partner was a 250 lbs front sleeper – because by contrast, they would need a firmer mattress to stop them sinking too far into the mattress materials and ending up with back pain.
Whilst one solution would be to sleep in separate beds, this may cause issues in the relationship because you are not sleeping together and thus intimacy may suffer.
In which case the optimal solution is to purchase a mattress with a split level of firmness – soft on one half and firm on the other half in the case of the example above.
Take note that a split firmness mattress is NOT the same as a double-sided mattress – the former has different firmnesses on each HALF of the mattress on the same side, whilst the latter can potentially have different firmnesses on each opposing SIDE of the mattress.
Split firmness mattresses can be difficult to find – so I recommend the Naturepedic EOS Classic Organic mattress because it is a high-quality mattress that has the most amount of split firmness options that I’ve seen so far (extra firm, firm, cushion firm, medium, and plush).
You can learn more about the EOS Classic Organic mattress here in my list of the best mattresses without fiberglass and save 10% when you order through the links on that page.
3: Create a Silent Sleeping Environment
If you and your partner are struggling to sleep together due to snoring, sleep apnea, sleep talking, or ambient issues such as noisy neighbors, then the best solution is to create a silent sleeping environment using earplugs, white/brown noise, a noise-canceling device, and/or headphones.
Having personally struggled to get to sleep due to my partner snoring, people in the house making noise, and noisy neighbors, I found that the most effective strategy was to sleep in earplugs and listen to the brown noise in the video above just before bed.
More info on the different sound blocking options below:
You can consider using earplugs for yourself or for your partner, depending on which one of you is the noisier sleeper.
Earplugs are an effective way to quiet disturbing noises such as snores, ambient noise, and electronic noises such as that from radio or television.
Make sure to select a pair of earplugs that are soft and made of a comfortable material such as foam or silicone.
I personally use Hearos Xtreme earplugs – you can buy them online.
White and brown noise can be effective in blocking out sounds of different frequencies – I prefer brown noise for lower frequency sounds and white noise for higher frequency sounds.
The most cost-effective way to use white or brown noise is to listen to free videos on YouTube or via an app through your earbuds or headphones.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to use earbuds or earphones, you can buy a white noise machine that plays a soft static sound in the background to cancel out annoying ambient noises.
Although these devices can be a little expensive, they are quite effective and often deliver great results.
In addition to using your headphones or earbuds to listen to music or white/brown noise, you can also use them to watch your TV shows without disturbing your partner if they would rather go to sleep and you aren’t able to do this in a separate room.
4: Plan Your Sleep Schedule Around Your Kids
If you have kids, it is highly recommended that you devise a plan with your partner well in advance regarding how to manage your bedtimes as a family.
For instance, you can take turns in putting your kids to sleep so that you can share the parenting responsibilities and also equally enjoy the periods of restful sleep (4).
If your kids tend to wake up in the middle of the night, it would be better if you can plan in advance and organize your sleep schedule as a couple.
You can also consider purchasing a baby monitor for your kid’s bedroom if it fits your budget.
The same rules apply more or less, if you are a pet parent.
You must ensure that your pets have a separate bed to sleep in, and if their bed is in a different room or a different area of the house, this would be an even better solution to your sleep problems.
5: Use Sleep Aids
Some of the most effective sleep aids when you sleep as a couple are eye masks, bedside lamps with a dimmer setting, and body pillows.
More details below:
I personally find it very difficult to sleep in a room that’s not completely dark – so I sleep in an eye mask to block out all ambient light.
Eye masks can be a great solution if you want to sleep whilst your bed partner wants to read in bed with the lamp on.
You can buy eye masks for sleep online – look for one with extra padding/memory foam around the eye and nose region so that light doesn’t get through.
I also recommend looking for one with a slideable strap rather than a Velcro one because Velcro can lose its adhesive properties after it’s been washed.
Bedside Lamps With Dimmers
If you or your partner like to read before bedtime, it would be a good idea to install bedside lamps that have multiple light settings ranging from dim to bright.
You must primarily ensure that you are considerate towards your partner and schedule your reading time in a way that does not strongly interfere with your partner’s sleep schedule.
And reading with a bedside lamp would be better than turning on all the bedroom lights.
The other person can also make use of an eye mask as mentioned previously to block out the light.
If one or both of you tend to toss and turn at night then you may find it useful to use body pillows to stop you from turning over.
Body pillows can act as a soft barrier between you and your partner and they can even absorb some of the body movements and effectively dampen noises or snores.
If you struggle to sleep when your partner isn’t in the bed, then a body pillow can help you to sleep more soundly when alone.
6: Adopt a Sleep Position as a Couple
Sleeping positions can substantially influence the relationship between you and your partner.
Researchers have conducted studies where they have estimated and predicted the dynamics of a relationship by evaluating the sleeping positions of couples.
Your sleeping position as a couple can indicate harmony, bliss, or even underlying emotional issues in your relationship (5).
Sleep scientists believe that adopting a sleep position as a couple can actually boost your relationship.
As a couple, you can try to adopt the following sleep positions, depending on whichever suits you the best:
Spooning (Best Option – Both Comfortable and Intimate)
‘Spooning’ is one of the most common sleeping positions observed among couples where one person cocoons the other person in what resembles a sideways hug.
Spooning is a cozy, comforting, and healthy sleeping position for couples.
It induces feelings of protection and safety which tends to relax both the partners and thus, induce sleep.
The spoon position is also quite healthy as it does not obstruct one’s airways and both partners are able to breathe easily while they are asleep.
Cradling (More Intimacy – Less Comfort)
Cradling is also quite a common couple’s sleeping position where one person lies flat on their back while the other individual rests their head on their partner’s chest.
This is also a good sleep position for couples as there is a lot of skin-to-skin contact which enhances intimacy.
However, it may not be a very comfortable position – especially for long hours – as it adds undue pressure on the airways of both the partners, and their arms and legs may also become numb due to the uncomfortable posture.
Soldier (Comfortable – Not as Intimate)
As the name suggests, in the soldier position both the partners lie flat on their back with their arms next to their bodies and minimal skin-to-skin contact.
Although this is regarded as a comfortable and healthy position for individuals, couples who tend to sleep in the soldier position may need to work on their relationship a little bit more, especially when it comes to intimacy.
However, it is an acceptable sleeping position for couples as studies show that long-term partners may prefer to prioritize comfort over nighttime closeness.
Stomach Snooze (Worst Option – No intimacy and Poor Comfort)
The stomach snooze is neither a good sleep position for couples or individuals.
As the name suggests, in the stomach snooze, both partners lie flat on their stomachs with their arms by their sides and almost no skin contact with their partner.
This is undoubtedly a very unhealthy sleeping position for most people.
It can put pressure on your spine, cause back pain, disrupt the posture of your body and even cause neck sprains by forcing your neck towards the side to breathe.
As a couple, sleeping in the stomach snooze position indicates vulnerability and lack of trust in a relationship.
It is highly recommended that you try to adopt an alternative sleeping position if you sleep in the stomach snooze position at present.
However, if you still prefer to sleep in the stomach snooze position, you may consider placing a pillow under your belly to improve your posture and relieve your back pain if you have it.
7: Have Separate Blankets for Each of You
Rather than sharing the same bedsheet, it can be beneficial for you to each have your own blanket or sheet so that you don’t annoy each other by taking more than your share.
This can help you to sleep better by ensuring that you don’t wake up because you’re suddenly too cold due to the other person stealing the covers!
More specifically, maintaining an adequate room temperature and body temperature is essential for obtaining a good night’s sleep.
To achieve this, most people prefer to sleep with a covering over them – such as a comforter, duvet, or blanket.
Many people have reported that allocating separate blankets for themselves and their partners has actually resolved a lot of sleeping issues that they encountered as a couple.
When couples share blankets, the constant shifting of fabric can disrupt their sleep and they may even feel too hot or too cold while sleeping in comparison to their partners.
These issues can be easily resolved by getting your own separate blankets that are most suited according to your personal liking.
This means you can freely choose the weight, fabric, and warmth of your blanket as per your personal preference.
8: Develop a Shared Sleep Routine
If you struggle to fall asleep when you share your bed, it would be a good idea to develop a pre-sleep routine with your partner.
The caveat here is that you both must equally enjoy this pre-sleep routine.
For instance, you both may try a short session of guided meditation right before bedtime.
This may help you unwind and relax, and you both may find it much easier to fall asleep.
Alternatively, you both may consider doing light breathing exercises before going to bed.
This may induce feelings of calmness and help you tackle loud snoring, if that’s what you struggle with as a couple.
It is important to make sure that your pre-sleep routine suits your lifestyle and it is an enjoyable activity for both of you.
Developing a good pre-sleep routine will improve your sleep hygiene and also strengthen your bond as a couple.
You can both try listening to the guided sleep meditation video I’ve included above.
9: Talk to Your Doctor About More Serious Sleep Issues
If you or your partner have any serious clinical conditions which are associated with your sleeping troubles – such as teeth grinding, nightmares, sleepwalking, or loud snoring (potentially sleep apnea) – you must seek immediate medical help from a licensed health care professional.
These are serious clinical conditions that require an accurate diagnosis and an adequate management plan.
More details below:
Teeth grinding or bruxism is when one clenches their jaw and grinds their teeth on a regular basis while sleeping.
While there can be many reasons for bruxism, it is most commonly associated with high levels of stress and anxiety.
Chronic and untreated teeth grinding can lead to dental damage and loss of teeth (7).
If your doctor struggles to treat bruxism, it is recommended that you visit your dentist for professional advice.
Nightmares can be very scary and disturbing for both you and your partner.
Frequent episodes of nightmares can be a cause of sleep deprivation among couples.
In some cases, nightmares can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that requires serious attention, such as depression, obesity, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you or your partner struggle with frequent nightmares, please consult your family physician.
Sleepwalking – also known as somnambulism or noctambulism – is a sleep disorder.
The exact cause of sleepwalking remains unknown, however, it has been associated with several other medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease (6).
The diagnosis of sleepwalking can often be quite challenging as it requires detailed investigations which need to be conducted by a licensed professional.
Loud Snoring (Possible Sleep Apnea)
Snoring is one of the most common causes of disrupted sleep, especially among couples.
Although it is usually harmless for most people, in some cases it may be indicative of a medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea.
Most people are habitual snorers, however, around ten percent of people have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea.
If you or your partner are habitual snorers, or if loud snoring disrupts the quality of your sleep, it is advised that you seek medical help.
Sleeping on an incline such as an adjustable bed may help to reduce snoring associated with sleep apnea.
How Sleeping as a Couple Can Affect Sleep
Sharing your bed with a partner can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time for many couples.
While sleeping together is a universal expression of intimacy, love, and attachment, it can have its own set of health implications including physical, mental, emotional, and psychosocial health.
If there is a lack of sleep harmony between a couple, sleeping together can actually be quite detrimental to the quality of their sleep and the quality of their relationship.
The underlying reasons for a lot of sleep troubles among couples can be attributed to the lack of awareness and understanding of one’s nocturnal behavior and a couple’s nocturnal interactions (8).
A research study concluded that sleep problems and relationship problems tend to occur at the same time in most relationships (9).
In reality, the timelines, dimensions, and dynamics of sleep and relationships are more closely interlinked than we think.
Age and Health Conditions Can Affect How Well Couples Sleep
There are many aspects that can affect sleep while sleeping as a couple.
For instance, one may take into account biological factors such as age.
Studies show that younger couples may experience more difficulties in falling asleep, while older couples may experience more difficulties in staying asleep.
Another aspect of sleeping as a couple that needs to be taken into account is the overall health status of both partners which includes mental, physical, emotional, and psychosocial health.
For instance, if you suffer from a chronic medical condition, such as teeth grinding, nightmares, sleepwalking, or loud snoring, you may struggle to obtain restful sleep.
This is not only valid for you but the vice-versa is also true – so if your partner suffers from a chronic medical condition, it may invariably disrupt your sleep too.
Communication Can Resolve Emotional Issues Affecting Sleep
Beyond the physical factors, there are also some emotional aspects that are involved in the sleeping equation of a couple.
For instance, if a couple is struggling with their sleep, it can be quite stressful emotionally for one person to talk to their partner.
Individuals mostly tend to feel guilty for complaining about their partner’s sleeping habits, especially because they know that neither did their partners do anything intentionally, nor can they control their sleeping behavior.
Discussions among couples regarding their nocturnal interactions usually tend to be bitter and inconclusive.
However, one must bear in mind that although such discussions may seem pointless at first, they are essential as communication is the key to a healthy relationship.
If matters remain unresolved, it is recommended that both partners seek professional help – such as couples therapy – from a licensed therapist.
Children and Pets Can Reduce Sleep Quality
The nocturnal interactions of a couple can change drastically if there is a strong presence of another influence, such as a child or a pet.
It is quite common for a couple to experience disruption and lack of sleep when a child or a pet demands their attention throughout the night.
Not only does this sudden change in dynamics impede the quality of their sleep as individuals, but it also affects their daytime mood, emotions, energy levels, and activities.
Such disruptions can be difficult to deal with as they tend to negatively influence the quality of the relationship shared by the partners.
If a couple is struggling with these issues, it is important that they clearly communicate their concerns to each other, discuss the problem and try to develop a plan which works for them as a family.
It would be a good idea to seek help from friends and family or from a counselor.
It is important to make consistent efforts and be considerate of everyone’s needs.
While some situations can be quite challenging, the couple must try to share the burden and make obtaining a good night’s sleep a priority in the household.
Sleeping as a Couple Can Release Feel-Good Chemicals
In spite of having some disadvantages, sleeping together as a couple has a lot of health benefits too.
Studies show that sleeping with a partner can enhance the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of one’s sleep, which is associated with emotion regulation and memory consolidation.
Some recent studies also suggest that sleeping as a couple can actually induce a more restorative type of sleep as compared to sleeping alone.
This is because sleeping with a partner can stimulate the release of ‘feel good’ hormones in our bodies, such as oxytocin, serotonin, vasopressin, and noradrenaline.
These hormones boost our endocrine health and contribute to our overall wellbeing and happiness.
Sleeping with a partner can also keep your anxiety levels in check as it decreases your stress levels and induces emotions of safety, comfort, and warmth.
Sleeping as a Couple Can Improve Sleep Quality
Sleeping together as a couple can substantially boost your physical relationship by improving your intimacy and sense of attachment to one another.
There have been plenty of scientific studies that assessed the links between the quality of relationships among couples through factors such as sleep and its overall physical and psychological health outcomes.
Some scientific studies have also reported that co-sleeping can actually synchronize the sleep stages of both partners and create a sleep dependency among a couple (10).
In other words, a couple that has been sleeping together for a long time may actually find it quite difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep in the absence of their partner.
Researchers have concluded that the sleeping arrangement, architecture, and synchronization of a couple are strongly linked to the characteristics of their relationship.
Therefore, not only does the sleeping behavior of a couple influence the dynamic of their relationship but the traits of their relationship can in turn have an effect on the sleeping behavior of a couple.
If you are struggling to sleep without your partner, then have a look at my guide to sleeping better alone.
Conclusion: Minimize Movements and Noise
The most effective strategies for getting better sleep as a couple are to invest in a mattress that minimizes the effects of you both moving around, and to block out any sounds of your partner snoring and/or any other ambient sounds using earplugs or a white/brown noise generator.
In addition to trying the other strategies in this list if appropriate, you should always consult with your doctor if your sleeplessness continues.
If you’re looking for a good mattress for couples, then I highly recommend the Puffy Lux Hybrid due to its ability to muffle your partner’s movements as well as providing amazing pressure relief for a more comfortable night’s sleep.
Click the button below to learn more in my first-hand review.
Sources and References
1: PubMed – Marital quality and the marital bed: examining the covariation between relationship quality and sleep (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
2: NCBI – Couples’ Nighttime Sleep Efficiency and Concordance: Evidence for Bidirectional Associations with Daytime Relationship Functioning (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
3: NCBI – Obstructive Sleep Apnea (view Source). Accessed 14/6/21.
4: PubMed – Marriage and health: his and hers (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
5: Science Daily – Research reveals what your sleeping position says about your relationship (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
6: NCBI – Somnambulism: Diagnosis and treatment (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
7: NCBI – Bruxism: A Literature Review (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
8: NCBI – Two in a bed: The influence of couple sleeping and chronotypes on relationship and sleep. An overview (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
9: PubMed – exploring the dyadic nature of sleep and implications for health (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
10: NCBI – Bed-Sharing in Couples Is Associated With Increased and Stabilized REM Sleep and Sleep-Stage Synchronization (view source). Accessed 14/6/21.
No part of this website or article provides medical advice – always consult with a qualified professional for the best guidance.
Image Attribution and Licencing
Main image: ‘Couple Sleeping’ by Brand X Pictures (Photo Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.