Sleep Science • Article

How to Get the Best Sleep Ever With Your Partner

Jennifer Nelson

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If spending every night in the arms of your partner is what dreams are made of, then making sure you both get a good night's sleep should be more than a fairy tale. 


From snore-fests to blanket wrestling, sleeping alongside someone else can prove challenging. 


Whether you and your partner love to spoon, don't like to touch during sleep or something in between — here's your guide to what you can expect when sharing a bed and how you can get the most restful sleep together. 



Getting used to sleeping on the same bed can be a mixed bag. They might snore; you might mumble in your sleep. There's less space in bed, and more movement. 


One of you might prefer a cooler room and the other a warmer environment, a softer mattress instead of a firmer one, drifting off to background noise versus insisting on virtual silence. 


Even if you've been together for years, changes — including new schedules, a different home, medical problems and kids — can all wreak havoc on couples, sleep-wise. 


But before you adopt twin beds, be patient. Sleep synchronicity takes time and effort. 


It can help to focus on the positives: 

  • Waking up beside someone feels nice 

  • Pillow talk brings couples closer 

  • Cuddling on a cold night is comforting (One 2019 study found that it's the canoodling that keeps couples closer rather than the sex) 

  • A study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people with a loving partner sleep better and have less depression and anxiety that keep them up at night 



Most couples quickly settle on the sleeping position that feels most comfortable. 


Some like to sleep snuggled up close to each other, like the classic spoon position. Others prefer the comfort and cooler temperatures of separate sides of the bed, referred to as cliffhangers, where you practically hang a limb or two over the edge of your respective sides. 


If you feel that you end up fighting for bed space every night, consider getting a larger bed. 


"Some people love king-size beds because they like a lot of space in the bed," says psychotherapist Stan Tatkin, author of "Wired for Love." But, interestingly, there are those who are not too keen on giant-sized beds. 


"There are some other people who really need to have some kind of physical touch in the evening in order for them to sleep well," Tatkin says. "For those people, we generally recommend queen-size beds because they are large enough to separate [sleepers] but not so large that people can get 'lost' in the bed." 


Fortunately, Sleep Number® smart beds come in all sizes. 


“If you're lucky, you'll find a perfect match with someone who shares your preferred sleep style," says Evany Thomas, author of The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the 39 Positions. 


But if your partner doesn't enjoy the sleep position you do, it's not the end of the shared bed. There are a number of alternative couple sleeping positions: 

  • Tetherball: The close sleeper sleeps curled in a self-cuddling ball, while the solo sleeper keeps one comforting hand on their hip 

  • Paper dolls: Each sleeper spreads out in their own style, but still keeps one hand and one foot lightly touching 

  • Pillow talk: A face-to-face position as though you might whisper secrets to one another 

  • Back-to-back: Both sleepers have the freedom to turn in opposite directions, but remain connected 

  • Sweetheart's cradle: One partner lovingly lays their head on another's chest, a passion position that's sweet to begin with, but hard to maintain as you move during the night 

Common sleep positions also have variations. The laid-back spoon has one partner loosely cuddled against the other. Sleeping as soldiers means laying back-to-back with lightly touching hands or feet. 


Experiment to find solutions that work for you both. 


Why Sharing a Bed Can Be Difficult 

Many factors can prevent you from getting the proper sleep together. Just as when you're awake, compromise is key to getting along at night. 


Snoring: A partner's snoring is one of the most common relationship sleep obstacles. In a survey by the Better Sleep Council, 42% of the women surveyed said their partner's snoring keeps them up at night. Try using earplugs, or ensuring the non-snorer falls asleep first. If you're concerned your partner could have sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which people momentarily stop breathing, suggest they discuss the issue with their doctor. The Sleep Number®  FlexFit™ adjustable bases with Partner Snore™ technology may also be an option. The adjustable bed base gently raises your partner's head to help open the airways and alleviate snoring.* 


Blanket Wars: You wake up freezing because your shared duvet has ended up on your partner's side, again. While romcom funny, it's a serious matter if the push-pull regularly disturbs your sleep. Many couples find using two separate blankets can alleviate this tug of war and keep both of you warm and cozy. 


Sleep Temperature: Two warm bodies in bed may create heat that you're not used to. When it comes to how couples sleep, one of the largest factors is sleep temperature. Sleep Number reports that 80% of couples sleep too hot or too cold.** A larger mattress can often help dissipate heat, as will cooling sheets like the Sleep Number® True Temp™ sheet set, which can help maintain your ideal microclimate as you sleep. Other accessories and mattress technology may help cool or warm your side of the bed as needed. 


Sleep Comfort: Since it's rare for partners to have exactly the same preferences when it comes to bedroom temperature or mattress firmness, turn to the Sleep Number® smart beds with SleepIQ® technology where you can adjust the firmness or softness you like on your side of the bed. And if one of you likes your bed to feel toasty warm and the other prefers a cooler sleeping temperature, the DualTemp™ mattress layer lets both of you have it your way. 


Competing Sleep and Wake Times: If you and your partner have different sleep and wake cycles or competing work schedules, sleeping in the same bed can become a challenge. Try adjusting your bedtimes a few minutes toward each other's to meet in the middle. Maybe you can head to bed together, cuddle, then the night owl slips away for a few hours — and slips back later, as quietly as possible, so as not to wake their other half. A wearable device that vibrates when you need to wake up or a white noise machine can help with different wake-up times. 


Sleep Talking or Sleep Walking: Sleep talking may be short lived, sometimes brought about by excessive tiredness, alcohol or stress. Sleep walking, however, has similar triggers as talking, reports the Mayo Clinic, but it can also be a sign of other medical issues. The other partner may wake and end up worrying and monitoring the sleepwalker. Sleep walking can also be caused by stress and sleep deprivation. If it occurs frequently, the sleepwalker should see their doctor. 


Memory Trouble: Your ability to lock down memories and recall them suffers when you're sleep deprived finds a study in Nature Communications. So sleep deprivation affects your ability to concentrate and learn, which could affect your work, school or daily tasks. Before you chastise your partner for forgetting the milk or to take out the trash, for instance, consider whether they're getting enough sleep. 



Even if you and your partner have a pretty good sleep rhythm, these tips can help improve your sleep quality: 

  • Use a white noise machine for soothing sounds of an ocean or soft rain 

  • Calm the mind with lavender essential oil in a diffuser or on your pillows — but ask your partner first 

  • Limit potential sleep disruptors like late-night junk food and alcohol 

  • Keep devices out of the bedroom and avoid screen time an hour before bed 

  • Keep your bedroom clutter free and go for a calming color scheme 

  • Stick to bedtime rituals — changing into pajamas, talking, snuggling or sex 

Getting quality sleep isn't just a luxury. Quality sleep helps boost immunity, increase energy and improve recovery. It also helps strengthen relationships. Make sure the sleep you're getting is the best quality sleep it can be. Get to bed — your love might depend on it. 😉 


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal well-being and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.


*May temporarily relieve common mild snoring in otherwise healthy adults. Partner Snore™ technology is available with Split King and FlexTop® King mattresses on FlexFit™ adjustable bases and Climate360™ smart bed. 

** Results from a 2020 Sleep Number survey of 1,004 respondents who reported they or their partner sometimes sleep too hot or too cold. 

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