WHY THE HAPPIEST COUPLES GO TO BED AT THE SAME TIME Print
By Jamie Rea
If you read any article online only about ‘Things Happy Couples Do’ or ‘Things Successful Couples Do’ you will find ‘Go to bed at the same time’ on just about every single list out there.
It’s the truth. How you and your partner sleep, as well as construct your nighttime schedules, can have a dramatic impact on your relationship.
According to a study done on DailyMail.co.uk, 75 percent of couples go to bed at different times due to heavy workloads, hectic social lives, and surfing the web (hmmm, sifting through that virtual garbage). Going even further, over one third of these couples with varying sleep patterns said that it created arguments.
That, in a nutshell, means — the majority of couples go to bed at different times and many have claimed issues in their relationship with a direct correlation to their different bedtimes. So it shows that sleep patterns in your relationship can be a real determining factor that contributes to a happy and smooth union, versus a rocky and argumentative one.
So what do these varying sleep patterns look like?
Well a successful couple in this area looks like this…
They’re both on a similar circadian rhythm. They both work jobs that are relatively close to the same hours (i.e. they both work night jobs, or both work day jobs). While they may separate for evening activities, they converge at the very end of the day, right before bed. They set their alarms at the same time, read their books at the same time, while chatting about their day, as well as their plans for tomorrow. They use this pre-bedtime routine as a chance to check-in, communicate, and relax and enjoy each other’s company before turning out the lights. They also use this time to have sex, of course!
Why is this time so important for a relationship?
It allows both partners to feel relaxed and closer to each other. It leads to more kissing, cuddling, touching, massaging, back scratching etc. (all crucial forms of intimacy that are often overlooked). As well as obviously more sex. In fact, one leading cause of the old argument “we don’t have enough sex” can be largely attributed to couples operating on conflicting work schedules and sleep patterns.
So heading to bed at the same time as your partner has a multitude of positive factors on you and your relationship.
Both you and your partner feeling more relaxed and at ease within the relationship.
And creates a deep, underlying feeling of camaraderie and partnership.
Now an example of a couple that is not successful in this area looks like this…
They always go to bed at different times; one partner always goes to bed much later, often barging into the room and waking up the other. Now the person who was woken up suddenly, probably ends up having a lousy sleep, which contributes to their irritable mood the next day. Now this creates susceptibility for tension and arguments, as well as a pressure point in the relationship if the problem persists. There are also couples that, instead of using the time before bed to talk to each other, end up spending that time with their attention being sucked into their cell phones as they check social media and randomly browse websites. Technology can become a huge interference during this time.
Growing up, my dad would always pass out on the couch, while my mom would go off to bed. It used to drive her absolutely crazy. This is because when someone doesn’t come with you to bed, or doesn’t reciprocate your invitation to come to bed at the same time, then they’re going to take it that their partner is directly turning down an opportunity to spend some time together, or at least doesn’t value the “before bed time” as a great opportunity to be close to each other.
Now many things are lost when this situation happens.
Firstly, they have less time to spend together, and if they both went about their busy, individual lives that day, then there is no time to communicate and reconvene. Secondly, they lose a perfect opportunity to be intimate with each other, to pillow talk and just be with each other in a quiet space after the noise of the day has subsided. They end up sleeping on far sides of the bed, with absolutely no bodily contact. Pretty soon this romantic relationship starts to feel like a friendship. And for couples who have children, this time before bed becomes particularly crucial as it’s often the only time they can be in each other’s company without their kids being around. They also lose out on, for many busy couples, the only chance to have sex. So now this couple is intimate with each other less often, and they communicate less often. Over time this can result in a huge gap between the couple.
You see, couples that are on conflicting sleep schedules experience more stress in their relationship, which creates more arguments. It can even be partially attributed to ‘poor sleep’ as well. When we get less than 8 hours of sleep, we become more irritable and more prone to arguments. It’s also particularly important for women to be on a similar sleep cycle, as according to Austria-based sleep researcher John Dittami, women are the sleepless sex. Meaning that they tend to have a harder time falling asleep than men and are more easily waken. Men fall asleep faster and have fewer complaints about their sleep. So if in a relationship, the guy tends to go to bed later, it’s likely that he’s going to wake his partner up when he comes to bed. She’ll not only be upset that he always wakes her up when he comes to bed, but also that he didn’t come spend time with her when she was heading to bed in the first place. So now she’s irritated by being woken up, as well as feels neglected that she goes to bed by herself every single night, as he sees random YouTube videos and Netflix shows to be more important than spending time with her. It’s also probably not a surprise, that according to DailyMail.co.uk, statistics have shown that people who sleep poorly have a higher divorce rate.
And all this over sleep!!
The argument that most people will have is that one person is a night owl and the other likes to go to sleep earlier, or that one person’s work requires them to be up late on the computer, while the other’s work requires them to be up super early. There is then the endless brigade of social obligations that keep couples out later and apart from each other.
But, the very important difference, which was noted by ‘Psychology Today’, is that it’s not so much about going to bed at exactly the same time, but rather couples getting in their “sacred time” together before bed every night. This doesn’t mean they have to be on the exact same sleep cycles, as that’s completely unrealistic every single night, but it’s about making the effort to use that time at the end of a busy day to find time to be close with one another. ‘Psychology Today’ goes on to say that couples that have different natural sleep cycles (night owl vs. morning rooster) should focus on spending quality time right before the bedtime of the person that goes to bed the earliest. The other person can then get up and do whatever they have to go do for the rest of the evening after they’ve spent quality time together, talking, cuddling, making love, or just being around each other and winding down after the day.
This difference between “sacred time” before bed and actually sleeping was further lamented by John Dittami when he said this, “sleeping is an individual thing. It’s not a duet.” What he meant was that most couples like to sleep independently from one another, i.e. very few couples actually fall asleep while they’re cuddling and spooning each other. This notion that couples always fall asleep perfectly caressed into each other’s arms has been blown out of proportion by romantic comedies, am I right? The majority of couples sleep on their own side of the bed. There is sex followed by cuddling, and then there is sleeping. Sleeping is its own thing.
We all lead busy lives. We all have social obligations. There are things we enjoy doing in the evening such as spending time on the computer, watching TV, movies, going out to see friends, and scrolling our Instagram feeds. But like so many other things in a relationship, quality time before bed is something that needs to be put into practice and done through a very concerted effort. It’s not about ALWAYS going to bed at the same time as your partner every single night, but it’s about trying to carve out that time in the evening, when the world shuts down, even just to be lying next to each other as you both read your books or make your schedules for the following day. As we’ve seen with so many other articles circulating the Internet, being on a complimentary sleep pattern is so crucial and evident in successful relationships, it leads to less arguments and more feelings of alignment and happiness with your partner.