Sleeping alone or with a partner: what impact on sleep?

Sleep hygiene

Nearly half of all Swiss people do not sleep alone. Sleeping with your partner may seem comfortable and cosy, but it can also have a serious impact on the quality of your sleep, leading to sleep disorders.

The topic of sleeping together or separately has recently been covered by RTS in one of their articles. They explored the reasons why some couples decide to sleep in separate rooms, a decision often seen as taboo. You can read their full analysis here: RTS – Sleeping in Separate Rooms: The Still Taboo Decision of Some Couples.

The pros and cons

It is common to appreciate the comfort and presence of another person during sleep. A child who sleeps badly, for example, will naturally ask to sleep in his parents’ bed to be reassured. Sleeping together also enhances the closeness and intimacy between couples.

So why do some people choose separate beds? Mainly for reasons of comfort: sleeping together can make it difficult to fall asleep, and can even lead to night-time awakenings if one of the sleepers has to put up with snoring, periodic limb movements, somnabulism or any other disturbance to their partner’s sleep. One person’s sleep problems can therefore have a negative impact on the other’s quality of sleep, and the partners may decide to sleep in separate beds.

Co-sleeper’s chrono-compatibility

As well as any sleep disorders that may disrupt sleepers’ nights, chrono-compatibility is another factor to be taken into account.

Each person has their own sleep rhythm. If the difference between the sleep rhythms of the ‘co-sleepers’ is too great, it is likely to have a negative impact on their respective sleep patterns. For example, if one of the two sleepers has a tendency to go to bed very early and get up in the early hours of the morning, they will find it difficult to sleep with someone who goes to bed very late.

The same problem can be caused by very different or irregular working hours (as in the case of 3×8 shift work or night work).

It’s important to pay attention to your own needs and not to try to adapt at all costs if sleep patterns are too different between partners.

How to improve sleep for two?

It may seem that sleeping together is not the best way to get the best possible sleep, but there are ways of keeping the pleasure of sharing a bed.

It’s important to talk about this subject without taboos, so that you can decide on a sleeping arrangement that will preserve the quality of sleep for both of you. Choosing a larger bed, twin beds or individual mattresses (with the optimum firmness for each partner), separate sheets and cushions (rather than a bolster), for example, will help to avoid the discomforts associated with restlessness, discomfort or cold during the night.