Love should make you glow, not give you under-eye bags. Yet, as many as half of coupled-up people have a mate who disturbs their sleep a few nights a week. Cumulative sleep loss can be bad for you and your ’ship. A Duke University Medical Center study found women suffer more consequences from poor sleep than men do, including greater feelings of depression, anger, and hostility, and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Our Rx: keep your BF, send your sleep habits to couples therapy.
1. If Your Lover’s a Snorer...
Arshita Mehta met her future hubby on a trip to Paris. It was unexpected bliss—until bedtime rolled around. “I don’t even know a word for the sound Piyush makes when snoring,” she says. “It’s a cross between a bear and a horse.” If her complaint sounds familiar, that’s because men are more likely to snore (not necessarily their fault—some guys have bigger upper airways), while ladies tend to be lighter sleepers.
... Drown it out.
Perhaps the first purchase to make as a couple: a white-noise machine. The Marpac DS Dohm (`3,970 approx, on amazon.in) is the gold standard in snore-masking because it generates sound via a fan rather than a loop of recordings (which tend to contain detectable blips). Cheaper are quality earplugs. Insomniac-turned-sleep expert Ethan Green, of the blog No Sleepless Nights, declares Moldex SparkPlugs foam earplugs (`1,570 approx on amazon.com) tops; they’re the official earplugs used at NASCAR. Ask your sweetie to consult a doc too—he may have sleep apnea, which can be serious if left untreated.
2. If Your Phones Keep You Up...
Many people keep their smartphone or tablet by the bedside, rolling over to check it when they wake up during the night (or worse, leave audible alerts on). It’s not just inconsiderate, it’s also unhealthy—science says so! The blue light in smartphones and tablets suppresses melatonin (the sleep hormone) for twice as long as other colours on the light spectrum and can upset circadian rhythms by as much as three hours—according to Harvard researchers. The result: one of you spends half an hour on the iPad while the other covers their eyes with a pillow. An hour later, you’re both having trouble dozing off because your brain thinks it’s daytime.
...Adjust the screen or ban it.
If you must bring your devices to bed, the EasyEyes, Twilight, and F.lux apps help reduce the amount of blue light coming from your device. Or try reading on a tablet without a backlight (like basic versions of the Kindle or Kobo Touch) and dim the screen’s brightness setting. Note: some experts believe this is an area where compromise shouldn’t apply. “If one person wants to use a smartphone or an e-reader, they need to leave the bedroom,” says Vatsal Thakkar, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, who thinks a filter doesn’t go far enough.
3. If Your Lover is Restless...
Let’s talk about your guy’s nightly flailing...or in the case of one unlucky lady, his sleep-pedaling. “My husband has ridden his bike in his sleep,” reports Kirti Wadhwa, whose spouse is an avid cyclist. Disrupted sleep may seem like a minor deal, but sadly, a full night of interrupted sleep is the physical equivalent of getting just four hours, a Tel Aviv University study found. A slew of other studies report that clocking less than seven to eight hours of quality zzz’s can trigger everything from weight gain to memory loss.
...Upgrade your mattress.
This is one bedroom situation when size does matter: a queen is six inches wider and five inches longer than a full; a king gets you another 16 in width. Even better: a split version, in which one bed frame holds two mattresses, lets him roll without you rocking. And mattress companies these days are happy to customise each side to match your personal preferences. Once you’ve selected a size, check the material—memory foam and latex are the most effective at reducing the impact of movement.
4. If All Else Fails... Sleep Elsewhere
Ananya Kapoor never thought she’d be that person when she moved in with her now-husband. They set up a cosy bedroom together, and “we lasted a week,” she says. He’s a morning person; she’s a night owl. Exhausted and desperate, he moved into their guest room. They’ve been together happily for 11 years. Unsexy as it seems, sometimes it’s impossible to blissfully share a single room...and there’s nothing wrong with that. One recent Canadian study found that between 30 and 40 percent of couples sleep apart, and that the practice could significantly improve relationships. “There are plenty of other ways to connect and have intimacy. It doesn’t have to be sharing a bed,” says Rachel Sussman, a therapist and relationship expert in New York City. “It’s paramount to get a good night’s sleep.”