How to Share a Bed: Sleeping Well with Your Partner

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On July 2nd, 2024
How to Share a Bed: Sleeping Well with Your Partner

Key Takeaways

  • Address Sleep Disruptions: Manage snoring and breathing issues by adjusting sleep positions, using nasal strips, or considering medical devices like CPAP machines if needed.
  • Find Comfortable Conditions: Compromise on bedroom temperature and bedding preferences to create a sleep environment that suits both partners.
  • Establish a Consistent Routine: Develop a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine together to regulate your sleep-wake cycles and enhance overall sleep quality.

Sharing a bed with your partner can present unique challenges that may affect your sleep quality.

From differing temperature preferences to snoring and restless movements, couples often face obstacles in achieving a restful night together.

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We’ll delve into practical tips for creating a harmonious sleep environment, address common issues that arise when sharing a bed, and highlight the surprising benefits of co-sleeping. Whether you’re newly cohabitating or have been sharing a bed for years, you’ll find valuable insights to enhance your shared sleep experience.

Tips for Better Shared Sleep

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Sharing a bed can be challenging, but with some adjustments, you and your partner can enjoy restful nights together. Here are some tips to help you both sleep soundly.

Address Snoring and Breathing Issues

Snoring is a common complaint among bed partners and can indicate sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD). If you or your partner snores, experiences daytime sleepiness, gasps during sleep, or wakes up breathless, consult a doctor. Solutions include:

Manage Tossing and Turning

Almost everyone moves a little bit while they sleep. But if you start moving around a lot more than usual, you should talk to your doctor about why you can’t sleep well. Certain health issues can make your body move when you sleep, like restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and sleep bruxism (when you grind your teeth).

Doctors don’t always know exactly what causes these problems. They will need to look at your full health history to figure it out. Stress, anxiety, medications, or other health issues might play a role.

If you think you have one of these issues that makes you toss and turn, see your doctor to get help.

Find a Comfortable Temperature

Everyone likes different things when they sleep, like how warm or cool the room is, how hard or soft the mattress feels, and how many pillows and blankets they use. You and your partner will need to compromise on each of these to find what works for both of you.

For sleeping temperatures, most people sleep best when the room is cool, between 60 and 67 degrees. But if you and your partner like different temperatures, you can do a few things to meet in the middle:

  • Use separate blankets to control individual warmth
  • Wear appropriate sleepwear to compensate for room temperature
  • Consider a dual-zone mattress or bedding for personalized comfort

This way, you can find a happy medium that lets you both get a good night’s sleep.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Work together to transform your bedroom into an ideal sleep environment for both of you:

  • Invest in a mattress and pillows that provide the right support and comfort for both your sleep styles
  • Choose bedding together that feels luxurious and inviting to both of you
  • Install blackout curtains or select eye masks you both find comfortable to ensure darkness
  • If one of you is a light sleeper, experiment with ways to block noise in the bedroom
  • Decide together on any aromatherapy or soft lighting that helps you both relax

Remember, your bedroom should be a retreat that caters to both your needs. Regularly check in with each other about what’s working and what could be improved in your shared sleep space.

Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Work together to establish a consistent sleep schedule as a couple. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends or days off. This helps train both of your bodies to follow a regular sleep-wake cycle and can increase the time you spend together in bed.

If you have different natural rhythms, compromise on a schedule that works for both of you. For example, the night owl might agree to come to bed a bit earlier, while the early bird tries to sleep in a little on weekends.

Consistency in your shared routine is key when it comes to establishing a healthy sleep schedule. You should find yourself feeling sleepy at your usual bedtime with this approach.

Get Natural Light Exposure

Encourage each other to get sunlight during the day, especially morning sunlight. Natural light exposure helps regulate both partners’ sleep-wake cycles.

If outdoor time is limited, consider using light therapy boxes to simulate sunlight. This can help synchronize your circadian rhythms, potentially leading to better sleep for both of you when nighttime comes.

Develop a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, gentle stretching, or journaling your thoughts before bed. This signals to your body that it’s time to wind down.

A consistent bedtime routine can help you transition from the busyness of the day to a peaceful night’s rest. But try to avoid activities like TV watching or scrolling on your phone.

Limit Screen Time Before Bed

The blue light and stimulating content from electronic devices can interfere with sleep. Try to avoid screens for at least 30 minutes before bedtime, or use blue light filtering apps or glasses.

Watch Your Diet and Exercise

Avoid large meals, caffeine, and sugar close to bedtime. If it’s late and you’re hungry, opt for a light before-bed snack that promotes sleep.

Exercise regularly for good sleep, but not too close to bedtime. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Such regular physical activity can improve your mood, reduce stress, and promote deeper, more restful sleep.

Manage Stress Together

If worries keep either of you awake, try relaxation techniques like deep breathing. Consider keeping a journal to clear your mind before bed.

Communicate Openly

Discuss sleep preferences and issues with your partner. Be willing to compromise and find solutions that work for both of you.

Consider Separate Blankets or Beds

If significant sleep disturbances persist, using separate blankets or even sleeping in separate beds part of the time can help ensure both partners get the rest they need.

The Benefits of Sharing a Bed

While sharing a bed can sometimes present challenges, it also offers numerous benefits for couples.

Improved REM Sleep

A 2020 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source found that couples sleeping together experienced about 10% more REM sleep compared to when they slept individually. REM sleep is crucial for emotional regulation, memory consolidation, and social functioning.

The same study reported that co-sleeping was associated with less fragmented REM sleep and longer undisturbed REM fragments. Such stabilized REM sleep could lead to better quality sleep overall.

Improved Sleep Quality

A 2022 study Verified Source Oxford Academic Research journal published by Oxford University. View source found that adults who shared a bed with a partner “most nights” reported less insomnia severity, more sleep, less fatigue, shorter sleep latency, and less wake time after sleep onset compared to those who slept alone.

Meanwhile, a 2019 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source found that greater sleep concordance (time spent in bed together) was associated with better subjective sleep quality, particularly for women with lower attachment security or higher attachment avoidance.

Stress Reduction

Physical closeness releases oxytocin which can help reduce stress levels. The comfort of having your partner nearby can also provide a sense of security, leading to more relaxed sleep.

The 2022 study from Oxford found that sleeping with a partner was associated with lower depression, anxiety, and stress scores, as well as greater social support and satisfaction with life and relationships.

While not directly measured in the 2019 and 2020 studies, the authors suggest that sleeping together may reduce stress levels by providing a sense of security, especially for those with insecure attachment styles.

Physical Health Benefits

A 2017 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source found that couples who slept and woke at similar times had lower blood pressure, especially during sleep. This benefit was particularly noticeable for women.

Along with showing how good sleep battles blood pressure, the study also found that couples with more synchronized sleep patterns had lower levels of inflammation in their bodies. This was true for both men and women.

Enhanced Relationship Satisfaction and Support

Bedtime often provides a quiet, uninterrupted space for couples to talk about their day, share concerns, or make plans together. This can improve overall communication and bonding in the relationship.

Having a partner nearby can also provide comfort during times of stress or illness, offering both emotional and practical support.

Support for Disabled Partners

Sharing a bed can be particularly beneficial for partners with disabilities. It may provide easier access to assistance during the night and increase feelings of security.

However, specific arrangements should be tailored to the individual needs of the disabled partner and their caregiver to ensure comfort and safety for both.

When to See a Doctor

While many sleep issues can be resolved through lifestyle changes or adjustments to your sleeping environment, there are times when professional help is necessary.

Here are some situations where you or your partner should consider consulting a doctor or sleep specialist:

  1. Chronic snoring: If snoring is loud, persistent, and accompanied by gasping or choking sounds, it could be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious condition that requires medical attention.
  2. Persistent insomnia: If either partner consistently has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, despite trying various remedies, it’s time to seek professional help.
  3. Excessive daytime sleepiness: Feeling extremely tired during the day, even after seemingly getting enough sleep at night, could indicate an underlying sleep disorder.
  4. Restless leg syndrome: If you or your partner experience an irresistible urge to move your legs, especially at night, accompanied by uncomfortable sensations, a doctor can help diagnose and treat this condition.
  5. Sleep paralysis or night terrors: These can be frightening experiences and may be linked to other sleep disorders that require professional evaluation.
  6. Sleepwalking or unusual behaviors during sleep: These could be signs of a parasomnia disorder that should be assessed by a sleep specialist.
  7. Narcolepsy symptoms: Suddenly falling asleep during the day or experiencing sudden muscle weakness triggered by emotions could indicate narcolepsy.
  8. Significant changes in sleep patterns: If you notice dramatic changes in how much you’re sleeping or your sleep-wake cycle, it’s worth discussing with a doctor.
  9. Sleep issues affecting daily life: When sleep problems start to impact your work performance, relationships, or overall quality of life, it’s time to seek help.
  10. Medication-related sleep problems: If you suspect that medications are affecting your sleep, consult with your doctor about potential alternatives or adjustments.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if sleep issues persist despite your best efforts to address them. A sleep specialist can conduct thorough evaluations, including sleep studies if necessary, to diagnose any underlying conditions and recommend appropriate treatments.

Many sleep disorders are treatable, and addressing them can significantly improve not only your sleep quality but also your overall health and relationship satisfaction.

When to Consider a Sleep Divorce

While sharing a bed can foster closeness in a relationship, there are times when sleeping separately Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source might be the best solution for both partners’ well-being and the overall health of the relationship.

Here are some situations where you might consider a sleep divorce:

  1. Persistent sleep disturbances: If one partner’s snoring, restlessness, or other sleep behaviors consistently disturb the other’s sleep, and other solutions haven’t worked, sleeping separately might be necessary.
  2. Different sleep schedules: For couples with vastly different work schedules or natural sleep-wake cycles, sharing a bed might lead to constant disruptions.
  3. Health conditions: If one partner has a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome that significantly impacts the other’s sleep quality, separate sleeping arrangements might be beneficial.
  4. Temperature incompatibility: When partners have very different temperature preferences that can’t be resolved with bedding adjustments, sleeping apart might be more comfortable.
  5. Space issues: If one partner is a restless sleeper who needs more space to move around, a separate sleeping area might be the solution.
  6. Stress reduction: Sometimes, the anxiety about potentially disturbing a partner’s sleep can itself lead to sleep problems. Sleeping separately can alleviate this worry.
  7. Short-term solution for better sleep: Even temporary sleep separation during particularly stressful periods or when one partner is ill can be helpful.

It’s important to note that a “sleep divorce” doesn’t have to mean sleeping in separate rooms every night. It could involve sleeping apart a few nights a week or having a separate bed in the same room. You could even use a split king bed to feel as if you’re sharing a traditional bed while enjoying separate mattresses.

Nor is it that uncommon of an arrangement. A 2023 survey Verified Source American Academy of Sleep Medicine Society focused on sleep medicine and disorders, and the AASM is who authorizes U.S. sleep medicine facilities. View source from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that more than one-third of respondents sleep separately from their partners at least some of the time.

The key is to find an arrangement that allows both partners to get the rest they need while maintaining connection in the relationship.

Remember, there’s no shame in prioritizing your sleep health. Open communication about sleep needs and a willingness to find creative solutions can actually strengthen a relationship.

If you’re considering a sleep divorce, Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source have an honest conversation with your partner about your sleep challenges and work together to find the best solution for both of you.


Why do I struggle to share a bed?

Struggling to share a bed is a common issue that can stem from various factors. You might be accustomed to having your own space and find it challenging to adjust to another person’s presence and movements.

Additionally, differences in sleeping habits, such as preferred temperature, bedtime routines, or sleep schedules, can contribute to discomfort.

It’s also possible that you’re a light sleeper, making you more sensitive to disturbances caused by your partner’s movements or sounds during the night.

How do I stop my partner from kicking me in sleep?

Addressing a bed partner’s kicking habits requires a combination of communication and practical solutions. Start by having an open conversation with your partner about the issue, as they may be unaware of their movements. Consider using a larger bed or placing a body pillow between you to create a physical barrier.

If the kicking is frequent or severe, it might be worth encouraging your partner to consult a sleep specialist, as it could be a sign of a sleep disorder like Restless Leg Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.

What to do when your partner takes up the whole bed?

When dealing with a partner who takes up excessive space in bed, open discussion is crucial. Discuss the issue calmly and explain how it affects your sleep quality. Consider practical solutions such as using a larger bed if possible, or agreeing on designated sides of the bed.

You might also try using separate blankets to reduce blanket-hogging, or placing a body pillow as a gentle barrier. If the problem persists, it may be helpful to explore the underlying reasons, such as stress or discomfort, that might be causing your partner to spread out unconsciously during sleep.

How to share a bed for the first time?

Communication is key. Discuss preferences regarding sleeping habits, temperature, and personal space beforehand to set expectations.

It’s also helpful to be considerate of your partner’s comfort, perhaps by using separate blankets if needed or agreeing on a fair distribution of the bed space.

Remember that it may take some time to adjust to sleeping next to someone, so be patient and open to making compromises as you both find a comfortable arrangement.

How can I prevent my partner’s snoring from waking me up?

Encourage your partner to try sleeping on their side, as this can help reduce snoring. If the snoring persists, suggest that they see a doctor to determine if there’s an underlying health issue, such as sleep apnea.

In the meantime, you can use earplugs to help block out the sound.

What should I do if my partner and I have different temperature preferences?

Try using separate blankets so that each of you can adjust your covers to your liking. Additionally, consider wearing warmer or cooler pajamas to compensate for the room temperature.

If the temperature difference is significant, you may want to consider using a dual-zone climate control system for your bed.

How can I create a relaxing bedtime routine?

Start by choosing activities that help you unwind, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or journaling about your day before bed. Perform these activities in the same order each night to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.

Avoid stimulating activities like watching TV or using your phone close to bedtime.

How can I make my bedroom more conducive to sleep?

Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool (around 60-67°F). Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bedding that support your body and promote proper alignment.

Consider using blackout curtains, a sleep mask, earplugs and other noise-blocking solutions to eliminate any disturbances.

How can I improve my sleep quality overall?

Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, manage stress, and make your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment.

Add regular exercise into your daily routine, but avoid vigorous activity close to bedtime. Finally, be mindful of your caffeine intake, especially in the hours leading up to sleep.


Sharing a bed with your partner can be a wonderful experience, but it can also come with its challenges. By addressing issues like snoring, tossing and turning, and temperature preferences, you and your partner can create a sleep environment that works for both of you.

Remember our key areas for better sleep:

  • Sticking to a consistent schedule
  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Managing stress

These tips can help you both get the restful, rejuvenating sleep you need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day together.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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