A recent survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council to learn about couples’ sleep habits shows that 26% of U.S. couples get a better night’s sleep when they’re alone in bed than when they sleep with their partner.
“Most people would agree that a lack of sleep can cause grumpiness and irritability, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention went so far as to declare insufficient sleep ‘a public health epidemic,’ ” says Karin Mahoney, director of communications for the BSC, the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association. “That’s a powerful statement, and one we felt was worth examining further. Our survey clearly demonstrates that couples often face obstacles to getting better sleep and that can add stress to the relationship.”
The survey results and accompanying infographic demonstrate the importance of couples working together to create a healthy sleep environment by selecting the type of bedding and creating a sleep environment that will help both of them achieve a restful night’s sleep. For example, the survey shows cuddling brings comfort to some people—13% say they “spoon” or cuddle the whole night through—while 63% prefer to sleep without touching their partner and almost one in 10 report sleeping in a different room.
“We know how important sleep is to health and happiness, and studies show having a lifelong partner can provide some of these same benefits,” said Lissa Coffey, lifestyle and relationship expert. “It’s interesting to examine the two issues together and see how they might be working against one another. Couples seeking healthier, happier lives and relationships often need to consider how they can improve how they sleep together.”
What are couples’ main issues in the bedroom? Disagreements over room temperature top the list of partners’ complaints, with tossing/turning and snoring rounding out the top three. In addition, 28% of respondents point to the quality, age or firmness of their mattress as an obstacle to getting a good night’s sleep with their partner.
“The importance of bedroom atmosphere, sleep habits and mattress preference become a little more complicated when two people are involved,” Mahoney says. “Agreeing on bedtime, bed coverings or even bed size and mattress type needs to be a two-person decision, if both are going to sleep comfortably every night.”
While 85% of respondents report they have problems sleeping at night, men claim to have less trouble sleeping than women. And it seems that as people age, they tend to sleep apart more, with couples 55 and older being the least likely to cuddle and the most likely to sleep in separate bedrooms.
Does this mean that the American couple dreams of sleeping apart? Not exactly. Only 18% of respondents say that their dream home has separate bedrooms.
“Being close to the one you love can foster health and happiness, but not if it affects your sleep,” Coffey says. “The key for couples? Work together to create a healthy sleep environment that meets both of your needs.”