Navigating a different sleep schedule to your partner

Apr 18 2024

If you’ve visited us before, you’ll know we wholeheartedly believe in and know the power of sleep as fundamental to health, mood, and overall wellbeing. But what if your significant other has a completely different sleep schedule to you? While mismatched sleep schedules are challenging, we have a few suggestions to help both people get the rest they need to maintain a healthy relationship.

Navigating a different sleep schedule to your partner

First, we also need to understand the science behind our sleep patterns. Our bodies follow a natural circadian rhythm, an internal 24-hour clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycles. This rhythm is influenced by external cues like light and temperature – but it’s also slightly different for everyone. Navigating different sleep schedules with your partner can be challenging, but it's not impossible. By understanding the science behind our sleep patterns and making some tweaks to your space and routine, you can strike a balance that lets you both get the shuteye you need.

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Communication is key

Open and honest communication with your partner is the starting point for resolving issues related to differing sleep schedules. Discussing your needs not only helps you find common ground but also fosters understanding and empathy. It might even bring you closer, and not just as a pair of spoons.

Create a sleep-friendly space

Creating an optimal sleep environment can significantly improve sleep quality for both of you. Consider blackout curtains to block out light, white noise machines to mask disturbances, and comfortable, breathable bedding. Natural fibres like organic cotton, linen and silk keep ‘hot sleepers’ cooler, while providing comfort to the rest of us. While none of these tips are ground-breaking, the difference here lies in creating this space as a couple, so you’re each getting what you need.

Compromise on Bedtime

Finding a middle ground for bedtime can be a practical solution. Aim for a bedtime that accommodates both of your schedules, even if it means adjusting your sleep patterns slightly. The goal is to align your sleep as closely as possible.

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Embrace technology

Leverage technology to your advantage – and no, we don’t mean scrolling on your mobile till all hours. Sleep tracking apps and devices can help you understand your sleep patterns better. By looking at this information together, you can understand how adaptations to your sleep schedules to help each other thrive together.

Be consistent

Consistency counts when it comes to regulating your circadian rhythm. Even if your bedtime schedules differ, try to maintain a consistent wake-up time. This can help anchor your body's internal clock and make it easier to adapt to changes in bedtime.

Mind your melatonin

Melatonin is one of the hormones that regulate sleep-wake cycles. Its production is influenced by light exposure. To align your sleep schedules, limit exposure to bright screens before bedtime. This can help both of you fall asleep more easily by allowing melatonin to rise naturally in the evening.

Spruce up your sleep 'hygiene'

Encourage each other in maintaining good sleep hygiene habits. This includes avoiding caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime, as well as practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation together. A walk after dinner rather than flopping in front of the TV, can work wonders for your relationship, as well as your sleep schedule.

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Spend quality time together

If you’re ships passing in the night - at night, it's even more vital to spend quality time with your partner. This is the perfect time to plan dates or even simply midweek dinners together, so you stay connected despite your sleep differences.

Find a sleep specialist

If you find that despite your best efforts, sleep schedule differences are causing significant problems in your relationship or affecting your health, consider seeking professional guidance from a sleep specialist, who’ll be able to offer you personalised solutions and strategies to get your sleep schedules back on track.

Learn more

Roenneberg, T., & Merrow, M. (2007, January). Entrainment of the human circadian clock. In Cold Spring Harbor symposia on quantitative biology (Vol. 72, pp. 293-299). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

National Sleep Foundation. (2021). Sleep Hygiene.