Sleeping alone and sleeping in the same bed as someone else both have advantages. Sleeping solo may allow some people to achieve better sleep quality. However, for others, the perks of sleeping with someone else in the bed may support better rest. Consider the benefits for each style of sleeping and learn how to adapt so you can enjoy the best night's sleep regardless of your lifestyle.
For anyone who’s ever experienced the sleep deprivation that can result from sharing a bed with an active sleeper — one who rolls around, grabs all the covers or snores so loud it sounds like a chainsaw — the benefits of solo sleeping may stand out without any further details. This may also apply if you're an active sleeper who worries about forcing yourself to remain unnaturally still to avoid waking up a bedmate.
When sleeping alone, you don’t have to worry that you’ll wake up cold and uncovered in the middle of the night. When that does happen, you may find the only way to get back your share of the blankets that are now wrapped snugly around your bedmate is to wake them up, which is something that can make both of you unhappy. Comfortable sleeping temperatures play a major role in the quality and quantity of your sleep. So, sleeping by yourself lets you regulate your bedtime temperatures to best suit your needs — with or without covers.
In addition to being awakened by a blanket hog, sleeping alone helps you avoid other nighttime irritations that reduce sleep quality. These may be caused by a sleep partner who has restless leg syndrome or bladder issues that necessitate a bathroom run in the middle of the night. When one sleep mate experiences sleep myoclonus, or hypnic jerks and twitches, it can keep the other person awake. Over time, these seemingly innocent sleep disruptions can impact on your health.
This third advantage of solo sleeping, relaxing in peace, may be the most important for many people. When sleeping single, you don’t have to lie awake listening to your partner snore or hear talking in the night when your bedmate is having a dream. Silence is also a consideration if your partner has a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or bruxism, which is nighttime teeth grinding. These conditions may cause annoying noises that keep some people awake when co-sleeping, making solo sleeping a positive thing.
Co-sleeping arrangements tend to be popular with couples, especially in the early stages of living together. Over time, sleep styles may determine how much quality sleep each person in a co-sleeping arrangement gets each night. This type of sleeping works best when two partners have similar sleep styles. Close physical proximity may be the biggest benefit for couples who have similar sleep styles.
Lying together in bed offers many couples a chance to discuss the ups and downs of the past day and plans for the next. Couples with young children or those who work long hours may find this pre-sleep period as the only time they have to themselves. Quietly talking and sharing helps many couples drift peacefully off to slumber.
People who sleep in the same bed gain the advantage of extra warmth on a chilly night because the closeness lends itself to cuddling. If one partner tends to steal the blankets, placing extra covers at the foot of the bed may provide a way for the one who ends up chilly to cover back up before cuddling in again to enjoy the body heat from the co-sleeping experience. Sharing a bed offers a way for both sleep partners to be comfortable and feel cozy throughout the night.
Enjoying a greater sense of intimacy is perhaps the biggest advantage of sharing a bed with your partner when you have similar sleep styles. Sharing the warmth and softness of a bed provides extra opportunities for partners to communicate, and it may make couples in intimate relationships feel closer and more bonded.
A lot of factors go into determining the best sleep style for each person and each couple. Couples who are light sleepers or who struggle with the turmoil that comes with nighttime disturbances may find peace and restful sleep through solo sleeping. Sometimes resorting to separate beds while remaining in the same room is an option. Other times, such as when one partner is ill or if you're continually experiencing sleep deprivation, having your own room may be the best solution.
Deep sleepers and those who find comfort by being able to touch and cuddle with a partner throughout the night may find co-sleeping more restful. If you’re struggling to get a good night's sleep, it may help to be open to experimenting with different sleep styles to find the one that works best for you.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.