Interview With My Partner: Tips for Bed Sharing When Living With an Insomniac

Everyone who shares a bed knows there are nuisances, quirks, or even challenges in sleeping beside the one you love. From taking up more than your allotted spot on the mattress to stealing the comforter during the middle of the night, maybe one partner tosses and turns, maybe one snores. And maybe one has a disruptive sleep disorder.

I have lived with my husband for 7 years now, and we have done quite a few things to help avoid many of the situations above. We got a split top king mattress meaning our headspace's have a division in them and can also be adjusted or angled separately, we actually chose to sleep with separate blankets so we can both be cocooned, and he usually falls asleep with headphones on in order to block out my snoring.

But my insomnia - it has caused a different type of challenge for us.

Sleep jealousy

It has caused me to be jealous of him and how fast he falls asleep and stays asleep. It has left me crabby in the morning when he asks how I slept, and I always worry that while I'm up during the night, even when I sneak out of the room, that I'll disturb his rest.

This or That

Do you sleep better or worse when away from home?

I wanted to ask him in his own words how sleeping beside me as an insomniac has affected him - both his sleep at night and his work during the day when I have the ability to nap and he does not.

Bed sharing with an insomniac

What have you noticed most about my sleep patterns?
Unpredictability at its finest. There are things that you can do to guide it but not much you can do to control it. So, it is unfortunate that you can't plan for that either.

What has frustrated you the most with this? And how have you dealt with that frustration?
The negative recurring effect it has on your cognition - headaches and general stamina. I know I feel off when I have a couple nights of uneven sleep. Going years at a time adds up and takes its toll.

Do you sleep better when one of us moves to the couch or the guest room?
In short, yes. But I don't think that is because it's always from you. I think, oddly enough, because it is not our bed that for some reason my body has grown to be uncomfortable. That's a different story for another time. I'm just able to get comfortable in the same positions on the couch or guest room too. And that doesn't work in our bed. It doesn't work on the basement couch, so it feels more like what I'm sleeping on rather than where or how you are sleeping that night.

Understanding the hurdles of living with insomnia

Have you come to understand or make peace with the way insomnia affects me, especially when it comes to early mornings with our daughter?
It is frustrating at times but not at you, more for you. I would love for you to be the first one up with our daughter but I also know that would require a physiological shift that your body hasn't allowed in years. It is frustrating and, at times, exhausting but we have adapted and will continue to do so.

Is there anything more you want to add?
I know this isn't your fault, it is a medical thing and you can only do so much to control your sleep environment but often can't control the amount of sleep you get or when or where you sleep. I also wish I could help with that but I know there is nothing I can really do either.

Tips for bed sharing with a partner

Open, honest communication. Regardless if you have lived with a sleep disorder for a long time or if it has come about recently, I think it is critical to share as much about it with your partner as possible.

I have found that my husband responds better to me when he understands me - the same way that he's less frustrated by my insomnia because he gets that I have been awake half the whole night leading to a crabby morning.

Meet your partner halfway. I know many people prefer to only sleeping in their bed, but sometimes if I really can't get to sleep (or back to sleep), I move downstairs to our couch. I don't want my tossing and turning and whatever I am doing to try to get to sleep to wake my partner or keep him awake.

Take good care of yourself. Your partner wants to see you happy and healthy, and without allowing yourself what you need to juggle Insomnia and "human-ing," it will be much more difficult to be present in every day life.

Featured Forum

View all responses caret icon
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.