How To Cope With The 3 Ways Dating Someone New Can Change Your Sleep Habits
The art of getting enough sleep is one mastered by few. In world where scoring high-quality shut-eye is already challenging enough, I'm here to tell you that a new relationship also changes your sleep habits. If general body chemistry isn't the culprit — making us turn to aids like Nyquil or Dirty Lemon Sleep Water or yoga to help us sleep — then it's social media keeping us awake. And it's also the new partner sharing the sheets with you.
Which sucks, because sleep is a rare and vital resource. A 2003 study in Sleep journal proved that consistently getting just six hours of sleep is as bad as staying up for two days straight. So, no, you probably shouldn't operate heavy machinery or send work emails after staying up all night while trying to watch every ending to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
The FDA recommends adults between at least seven or eight hours of beauty sleep each night. It's crucial that you give your body enough time to go through every sleep cycle to wake up feeling as refreshed as possible.
Still, the prospect of restless nights in bed— and not the sexy kind — shouldn't make you lose sleep. I talked to Alanna McGinn, founder of sleep consulting company Good Night Sleep Site and host of This Girl Loves Sleep podcast, about some dreamy solutions to the problems sleeping with someone new presents.
1. You both need different sleep environments.
Varying sleep environment needs can look a number of ways. "Someone who needs to sleep in the pitch dark, someone who prefers to have light," McGinn says. "Someone who needs a sound machine, someone who doesn’t."
“You can use different tools like eye masks, for those individuals that need it that much darker," McGinn says. "Or earplugs, [for those] that need it really quiet and somebody [else] might need a noise machine." There are little adjustments you can make that are subjective and don't have to completely change the environment of the room for your partner.
Another one is how soft or firm your shared mattress is. When it comes to tackling this clash of sleeping habits, your bed doesn't have to be an uncomfortable binary.
"There are a lot of mattresses now that you can have hybrid mattresses, where they have both the foam and the inner-spring coil. So it can suit both needs," McGinn says.
2. You sleep on different schedules
Another disruptor can be conflicting timelines for bedtime. Maybe you work a closing shift and your partner works a 9-to-5. Or maybe you're an early riser who's ready to knock out as soon as they get home and your partner is a night owl. In either case, the different comings and goings can be disruptive.
Again, eye masks and ear plugs can go a long way here.
3. Your partner is a restless sleeper.
Snoring is "probably the biggest" problem couples face when it comes to sleeping, McGinn says. There's the challenge of being a still sleeper in bed with a kicker, too.
Kicking around in bed could be symptomatic of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder. Instead of resting peacefully, people with the disorder toss and turn during their REM sleep. Snoring, on the other hand, can be a sign that you or your partner suffer from sleep apnea.
"If there are any sort of major sleep disturbances happening — for whatever reason and happening for a prolonged period of time — it’s worth having a conversation with your doctor," McGinn says. "You would then have a sleep study done and take further actions from that."
Still, McGinn says, focusing on sleep hygiene, environment, and habits can be effective here, too. Apart from buying a mattress that absorbs movement, you can also reduce the effects of tossing and turning another way.
"For my husband and I, we always like to use separate duvet covers. We learned that the hard way. We would get into full-out battles. We’re both blanket-hogs!" McGinn explains. "'And then we said, ‘Why are we doing this?'" McGinn and her husband currently have a king-sized bed, each sleeping with queen-sized duvet covers. Which honestly sounds like a dream.
The final solution, which could be on the radar for long-term couples, is having your own bedrooms. In her time as a sleep consultant, McGinn has seen the benefits.
“More and more people now are just sleeping in separate bedrooms, because they’re just wanting to focus on sleep. Not because there is any trouble in the marriage or relationship," McGinn says, "But because they just want to have that better sleep.”
When you're looking at all of the options there are on hand, sleeping with a new partner doesn't have to be a nightmare.