Bed Sides Sizes and Senses
I’m now approaching 110+ days of sleeping next to my Never Ending First Date partner, and while he doesn’t snore or have a pet to wake us up, I have had to deal with many adjustments in sleeping next to him and doing my best to ensure I get enough sleep or set the scene for a good night’s sleep. After over 30 nights of sleeping at my place, I bit the bullet and decided I would stay at his. In the 110+ days since our first date, we’ve slept in five different time zones, as guests at each of our parent’s homes, in hotels, on an air mattress and on planes. We’ve had alarms in the form of hotel housekeeping when we overslept, children under the age of 8 excited to see their aunt at the crack of dawn, and captains providing the weather report and requesting we prepare for landing with our seats back in upright position and items stowed away. It’s been a pretty interesting experience and has provided me with some sleep hacks when it comes to sharing my own bed and receiving feedback about things that prevented sleep for my partner and also what it is like to face the sleep challenges of a new space, country, time zone, bed, sleeping conditions, and more. Sharing a life with someone also means sharing a bed, space, and all of the lifestyle habits that come along with our personal preferences. Here are my Hacks for Sleeping With a Partner: Bed Sides, Sizes and Senses for Sleep. Also see Sleeping With a Partner: Proactively Setting the Scene for Sleep (Link to Post titled Proactively Setting the Scene for Sleep). Without a good night’s sleep, this is essentially how I feel…
Side of the Bed
What side of the bed do you sleep on? This is a vital question and a non-negotiable when someone stays at my place. I am always on the side of the bed where my nightstand is within reach so I can grab my glasses, a bottle of water, sneak out of bed to go to the bathroom, and turn to sleep on my side without directly going face to face with someone. At my partner’s place, he has his side of the bed and would not budge. One night when 110+ nights next to each other could not sleep at my place because of the side of the bed, I used it to my advantage. I said, “Why don’t you try my side of the bed?” Of course, because that side of the bed was usually his side (the side closest to a window) he was willing to try it to get some sleep. I also knew that if he was not able to sleep that it was unlikely that switching sides of the bed would really change his ability to sleep that night. When he could not sleep on that side either, I switched back with him and he never asked to take my side of the bed at my place again. This seems like such a silly issue, but there are articles like this one from the Huffington post about the many reasons partners choose a specific side of the bed. When it comes down to it, a “couples bedside system” or a sleeping system and understanding what helps/hinders a partner’s sleep based on factors other than the side of the bed can help prepare for how to help each other sleep regardless of location. For my NEFDP (Never Ending First Date Partner, haha) he cannot be too cold or too hot. I knew this, so I put sheets, a blanket, and a duvet on the bed during summer in case I need to run my AC. Of course my AC always results in complaints about the “dry air” when he wakes up, but it is a better solution than him waking me up 4-5 times a night because he is cold or cannot sleep, especially when the air from his central air at his apartment always affords the same “dry air” complaint. For a person who needs to be near the door or window or wakes up first or has glasses, etc.… find a compromise if you can sleep on either side. I appreciate the notion of having a “couples bedside system” as it relates to understanding sleep habits and preferences.
Size of the Bed
I have always slept in a Queen size bed or smaller in my own places. When I had my first Queen size bed instead of a Full-size bed, I thought it was HUGE. I still think a Queen size bed is sufficient for two people. That said, I’m petite and have been told that aside from being a clingy space heater, I do not toss and turn a lot when I sleep. I attribute this to sleeping on a futon when I was in junior high (it sort of creates an indented nest that prevents movement). I fall asleep and do not really take up more than 20 percent of the bed width. That said, most of my exes or former partners (and current NEFDP – Never Ending First Date Partner) have larger beds. “Is this a King or a Cali-King?” is a question I end up asking guys. That’s actually an awesome problem to have when dating in NYC when some people have roommates and rooms that consist of a full-bed and a door. If the bed is too small and sleep is not an option, either agree to sleep at your place where there’s a bigger bed or plan in advance to leave early before bedtime. Where there’s a will there’s a way and I imagine in NYC the price of a new bed is less than a few dates with a girl they might never want to sleep next to or with. 😉
Now that the sides of the bed and the size of the bed have been crossed off the list, what about the other senses: temperature, sounds, lighting, smells, and other stimuli that impact rest. I mentioned that my guy from the NEFD (Never Ending First Date, maybe I should just give him a name?) is extremely temperature sensitive. Compromise with regard to layers of bedding and even what you wear to bed can make sleep cooler or warmer. The kind of mattress can also regulate how cool someone sleeps or does not sleep. Find a way to make it comfortable for both temperature-wise.
I also covered some of the ways to make sounds less difficult when sleeping in my posts about snoring and blocking out the sound (links to snoring post) and dealing with the noise from pets (link to dealing with pets post here). Sounds can be remedied with noise machines, ear plugs, headphones, and most importantly, compromise.
What about lighting? Ideally this is me in any scenario…
Lights are also a big deal in my opinion. I prefer to wake up to natural light in the morning. It is nice to have daylight without drawing the blinds. We are not living in an era (or a period in our life when mom has to pull us out of bed for school) where a caretaker comes in to wake us up and then draws the curtains because there is no overhead lighting. A few ways to make this work is to establish a mutually agreed upon wake-up time. If both people are okay waking up at the same time, then the light from outdoors should not be offensive enough to either party…at least not in a way where a sleeping mask cannot help mitigating any complaints.
The key to making all of these various senses related sleep preferences work is all about compromise and communication. Observing your partner when they are asleep and you are awake can tell you a ton as well. Are they under the covers or using all of the blankets? Do they sleep on a specific side or tend to toss and turn? Do they end up throwing 2-3 pillows on the floor when they sleep or steal your pillow during the night (this is one of my problems – my guy only had two King Size pillows and those are much too big for my petite size. The first weekend I slept there went to Bloomingdales to buy me a standard pillow. The only problem I have now is that he steals my pillow at night without realizing it). Taking note of these things can help in the planning phase to Set the Scene for Sleep Success (Link to Article on Setting the Scene for Sleep Success). If nothing else, observation a compromise will make ZZZ time much more rewarding for you and the partner sharing a bed with you.