Poor sleepers' impact on their bed partners

Image of Professor Colin Espie
By Professor Colin Espie

Although poor sleep is very common, it's not at all uncommon to find that someone with persistent sleep problems has a partner that sleeps well. This often creates an extra challenge for poor sleepers with partners – feeling isolated as a result of their sleep problem, being reminded that others are asleep whilst they are awake…by someone being soundly asleep right next to them! Perhaps when both partners have sleep problems they are able to provide mutual support and work through solutions together?

One of the areas that poor sleep often has a negative effect on is relationships, and it's easy to see how disrupted sleep can put a strain on the person you share a bed with. In the short term the techniques in the course can also be disruptive – especially those focussed on reconnecting your bed with sleep and restricting your sleep window. It might be that your partner finds it hard to understand the techniques included in the course, and how they are intended to make improvements to your sleep. In this case communication is often the best solution. Try sharing the program with them, explain that this is a temporary period of disruption that should lead to a long-term ongoing improvement. In fact, why not let them know how they can help you – reminding you to practice the relaxation techniques for example, or just taking a more light-hearted approach to the problem!

Beyond this it could be worth considering practical solutions to disrupting your partner's sleep – sleeping in separate rooms for the duration of the course, or buying a soundless, vibrating alarm clock that you can place under your pillow to wake you at your rising time. However, long term poor sleepers have often exhausted many of these 'coping strategies', and the better solution is to bite the bullet and put the course into action for a limited time with their (perhaps reluctant!) blessing.

Filed under: Insomnia