Solve Your Biggest Bed-Sharing Problems With the Help of Sleep Experts (2024)

Your relationship might be practically perfect in every way, but when it comes to sharing a bed and getting your best night's sleep, even the most in-sync couples can find themselves frustrated. There are many compromises to be made in terms of bed real estate, sleep style and other little things — and they deserve some attention, because everyone's their best self when they're well rested.

"Sleep is very important to our well-being, especially for extending the longevity of life," says Mayank Shukla, M.D., a pulmonologist and sleep doctor in New York City. "Because we spend so much of our time sleeping and together, it's important to plan ahead with your partner. Going to bed at night with your partner should be something you both look forward to — not dread."

See below for some common problems that affect the way couples sleep together, and expert tips for how to share a bed with your partner.


First off, if one of you snores, you're going to want to rule out any medical reasons behind it. "Snoring can be a symptom of a bigger problem such as obstructive sleep apnea or allergies," says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of The Good Sleeper." And snoring compromises sleep quality for the snorer as well as the partner, leaving them with daytime sleepiness, headaches, and various other consequences of sleep loss or deprivation."

If those aren't at the root of the problem, there are some over-the-counter solutions the snorer can buy or take to try and reduce it. "There are a variety of devices available that can help, from pillows and sleep positioners, to mouth guards and breathing strips that keep the nasal passages open," Dr. Kennedy adds. "Using a humidifier and saline nasal spray is also helpful." So is side-sleeping, and elevating the head of the bed.

And then there are some steps that the non-snorer can take, too, like going to bed earlier (if possible) to hopefully be asleep by the time the snoring starts. "A larger bed can make a big difference for the partner," Dr. Kennedy says. "Getting a few more inches of distance can really help. Earplugs and white noise might also do the trick."

Differing Temperature Preferences

We each have our favorite sleep conditions: the ideal temperature of the room, firmness of the mattress, the right number of pillows and blankets. You have to take these on a compromise-by-compromise basis.

For example, "A cool sleeping environment — 60 to 67 degrees — is optimal for most people," says Natalie D. Dautovich, Ph.D., assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and member of the National Sleep Foundation. "However, if you differ from your partner in your temperature preferences, consider separate bedding and wearing warmer or cooler pajamas to bed to compensate."

In this case, it's probably up to the person who likes to be warmer to get the extra-warm PJs and blankets. "It’s very hard to sleep when you are overheated, so it's harder for the person who likes to be cooler to compromise," Dr. Kennedy says. "But there are special fabrics for pajamas and bedding that can wick away moisture to keep you cooler. And mattress companies are joining the mix with better airflow and even cooling pads that can help the hot sleeper to be more comfortable."

When it comes to firmness, you probably have to fix that at the mattress level. "Purchasing a mattress with dual comfort settings is a great investment," Dr. Shukla says. "Mattress pads or mattress toppers are also available, but that's a more cost-prohibitive option and, when you're co-sleeping, both levels of the bed should be the same. If you wake up tired with an achy back, that's a problem. Looking for a different mattress is a simple remedy. Also, give yourself a couple of weeks to get used to your new mattress — patience is key to adjusting to a new sleep surface."

Opposing Sleep Cycles: Early Bird vs. Night Owl

As it turns out, there's only so much control you have over whether or not you're an early riser or late-night partier: everyone has their own "chronotype," or body rhythm that controls your internal sleep clock, and it's hard to fight it. "It’s important for each partner to follow their own sleep schedule and live according to their own chronotype," says Martin Reed, a certified clinical sleep health expert (CCSH) and the founder of Insomnia Coach.

Your chronotype may change as you get older. "We peak in 'eveningness' in young adulthood and gradually become more 'morning types' as we age," says Dr. Dautovich.

But trying to change it on your own may lead to problems. "Night owls who try to go to bed too early often end up with insomnia, for example, because the pressure to sleep when the body is not ready triggers anxiety and frustration," Dr. Kennedy says.

"It's important to follow your internal cues as much as possible, even it means differing bed and wake times," Dr. Dautovich adds. "However, light can help to shift our daily rhythms. Dim light exposure in the evening and bright light exposure in the morning can help to move your bed and wake times earlier."

Bed- and Blanket–Hogging

You go to sleep each night splitting things 50/50, but wake up in the morning with one of you curled in a corner shivering with no blankets. There really is only one solution for this: Invest in a bigger bed, and separate blankets. "For example, you can try two twin-size comforters instead of one large comforter so that you each have your own individual sleeping materials," says Dr. Dautovich. (This also helps if you have different ideal sleep temperatures, since one blanket can be thicker than the other.)

Incidentally, in many European countries, topping the bed with two smaller, separate duvets is the default. IKEA even tried to get what it called the "Swedish way of sleeping," to catch on in the U.K., launching a limited-time "TOG-ether" bundle (aka a set of two twin duvets). Unfortunately, the bundle is not available in U.S. stores, but if you're not into blanket-sharing, just know that you're not alone.

Uninvited Guests (aka Your Kids)

Sharing a bed with one partner is hard enough as it is, but adding a child, who takes up more space and blankets than you can possibly guess, can really disrupt night rhythms.

If you have a child who insists on waking you up at night and crawling into bed with you, it might be time for a little tough love. "Set limits!" says Dr. Kennedy. "It might feel impossible, but it is really important for kids to learn how to fall asleep and return to sleep independently. They sleep better — and are much more pleasant to be around during the day — when they can sleep on their own. And marriages can become very stressed when kids come into the bed, especially when one partner leaves the bed to make room. Parents often feel very stuck in this situation, and outside help — such as a sleep consultant — can make a big difference."

Of course, if you as a family decide that bed sharing works for you, that's a different story (though it's definitely wise to brush up on the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines for safe sleeping, which discourage bed sharing with babies). But if your night visitor throws your whole routine upside down, the practice of leading them back to their own bed each night will be worth it in the end.

Late-Night Wake-Ups

If one of you frequently needs to get up in the night, the important word is courtesy. "If you need to get up, then try to go in a separate room and gather yourself or relax," Dr. Shukla says. "If you want to read or look at your phone, please don't engage in these activities while you are next partner." Take your book or tablet in the living room and read until you to start to feel sleepy. Then you can go back to the bedroom.

Calling It Quits

Some people are just sleep-incompatible, and that's okay. "If you're regularly waking up during the night or feel unrested upon awakening due to sharing a bed, consider sleeping separately for a trial period of a couple of weeks to see if your sleep improves," says Dr. Dautovich." Healthy sleep is important for maintaining a good mood and a positive relationship with your significant other, even if you have to sleep separately!"

However, be wary of separate sleeping arrangements if it amounts to putting a patch over a larger problem. "It's important that couples don’t move to separate beds unless this is the long-term goal," Reed says. "For example, if one person has chronic insomnia and they move to the spare bedroom in an attempt to improve their sleep, they would be rearranging their lives to accommodate insomnia. That's not a long-term solution. Even if someone sleeps better after moving to a separate room — which, in the case of insomnia, is rare — the insomnia will usually return as soon as they return to bed-sharing with their partner."

It's the same with snoring: If one of you moves to a different bedroom because of the snoring, you might miss out on treating one of the medical conditions that could be causing it. But if it just turns out that you sleep better in different rooms or beds, it's better to be happy and well-rested than together and sleepless.

Solve Your Biggest Bed-Sharing Problems With the Help of Sleep Experts (2)

Marisa LaScala

Senior Parenting & Relationships Editor

Marisa (she/her) has covered all things parenting, from the postpartum period through the empty nest, for Good Housekeeping since 2018; she previously wrote about parents and families at Parents and Working Mother. She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, where she can be found dominating the audio round at her local bar trivia night or tweeting about movies.

Solve Your Biggest Bed-Sharing Problems With the Help of Sleep Experts (2024)


At what age is it inappropriate to sleep with your child? ›

According to Liz Nissim-Matheis, a clinical psychologist in New Jersey, it's best to end co-sleeping when a person reaches puberty, or at around 11. “Once we get into that territory of bodies changing, that's when you really want to take a step back and say, 'What is going on here?

What is the 100 walk method? ›

(One popular method is the “100 walks” routine: every time your child comes in to your room, you calmly and uneventfully walk them back to their own room—for as many times as it takes. They'll eventually tucker out and understand that you mean business.)

How does co-sleeping affect your child later? ›

Co-sleeping with older children can be especially detrimental as it can create stress for the entire family, lead to poor sleep patterns for both parents and children, and inhibit the ability of children to develop independence.

At what age should you stop cuddling your child to sleep? ›

A: The optimal age for stopping bedtime cuddles varies for each child, but most experts recommend gradually transitioning away from cuddling around 2-3 years old. It's important to consider your child's development and individual needs when making this transition.

Is it okay for a 13 year old to sleep with parents? ›

I have seen first-hand the strong opinions people have about parents co-sleeping (or not) with their children. While we need to be mindful of safety and SIDS when co-sleeping with infants, there is no problem with co-sleeping with older children in and of itself.

Is it OK for a 7 year old to sleep with parents? ›

Co-sleeping is not recommended, but a 7-year-old child sleeping with parents is considered normal in many families and cultures. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against co-sleeping at any age, especially if the infant is younger than four months.

What is the thousand walk method? ›

In this method you let the toddler come out of his or her room and then walk them back to bed a zillion times, as many times as it takes. When they get out of bed you don't get angry or show emotion.

How do I prepare for a 100 mile walk? ›

When training for distances of 50 to 161 kilometers (31 to 100 miles), the longest distance to train should not need to exceed 20 to 25 miles, which you should perform at least twice in the two months prior to the event. Then taper during the month before the event down to a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) distance.

How can I get my toddler to stay in their bed? ›

Tips to get kids to stay in bed
  1. Stick to a routine. Set a regular bedtime for your toddler and be consistent about sending them to bed at that time. ...
  2. Introduce the 'Sleep Fairy' ...
  3. Sticker charts. ...
  4. Check in with a second 'good night' ...
  5. 'Big kid' reminders. ...
  6. Family pictures. ...
  7. A wake-up clock.
Sep 19, 2022

Is it normal for a grown man to sleep with his mother after? ›

It is not normal for a grown man to sleep with his mother just for the fun of it, however I sleep with my son sometimes only when he's seriously sick, he's asthmatic and there are nights where his chest gets really tight I sleep with him just for observations over night nothing more.

When you talk in your sleep, are you telling the truth? ›

The short answer: nothing. The myth of people confessing their deepest, darkest secrets in their sleep occurs only in Hollywood films, not in real-life bedrooms, Dr. Pavlova says. Most times, sleep talking sounds more like babbling than intelligible sentences.

Which country has the highest rate of co-sleeping? ›

In Japan — a large, rich, modern country — parents universally sleep with their infants, yet their infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world — 2.8 deaths per 1,000 live births versus 6.2 in the United States — and their rate of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is roughly half the U.S. rate.

What is coddling a child? ›

The overprotective parent “coddles” her child when she believes that completely shielding her child from inevitable problems and disappointments is a necessary part of parenting. Subsequently, the coddled child will learn to depend on others to rescue him from life's calamities instead of depending on himself.

Should you lay with your child until they fall asleep? ›

There's no need to stay with your child until they fall asleep. Telling them you'll lie down with them for 15 minutes can be the perfect compromise to give them the snuggles they need while still giving you some precious time to yourself at night. And don't underestimate the benefits you'll feel yourself!

Why does my child have to touch me when he sleeps? ›

Firstly, it helps to regulate their body temperature.

Keeping them physically on you, literally skin to skin, helps them pick up your temperature or the person who's holding them and helps regulate their temperature. This means that it guarantee's that they won't be too hot or too cold.

Is it normal for a 10 year old to sleep with parents? ›

Forty-five percent of moms let their 8- to 12-year-olds sleep with them from time to time, and 13 percent permit it every night. A child's anxiety, lower self-esteem, and dependency behaviors during the daytime are related to their inability to sleep alone at night.

Is it OK for a 12 year old boy to sleep with his mom? ›

Clearly, you and your son are close and he still relies on you a great deal, especially at bedtime. It's OK to carve out time for pre-bedtime cuddles and even to let him climb into bed with you in case of a nightmare, but at this point, nightly bed sharing should definitely be phased out.

Is it unhealthy for your child to sleep with you? ›

Bed sharing can be dangerous for babies. Reason: risk of suffocation. After 12 months, there is no proven risk of harm. There is no evidence that bed-sharing produces children who are more spoiled or dependent.

Is it unhealthy for a child to sleep with their parents? ›

The AAP's safe sleeping guidelines4, which were updated in June 2022, state that parents should never let their baby sleep in the bed with them—citing the risk of suffocation, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and other sleep-related deaths.


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