The agony of sleeping together when you have insomnia (and my Ozzie and Harriet solution)

Guest post by TorchyBlane

“Life with an insomniac” by: Anita DaltonCC BY 2.0
This post is about sleeping together. GAUCHE! Except, I mean, actual sleeping. As in closing your eyes, turning off your brain, allowing the worries of the day to melt into tiny, infinitesimal oil slicks on the calm sea of your beatific self-possession. Oblivion sneaks over you like the smell of a fart in a conference room, and before you know it you’re flying to Magnolia Bakery for red velvet cupcakes in the TARDIS with Joseph Gordon-Levitt until, precisely eight hours later, you awake to the sound of early morning songbirds outside your window like a goddamn Disney princess.

Seriously, fuck those people.

I’m an insomniac. Not in the cool way. I’m not staying up because I’m punk and badass, or my thoughts are too deep to be constrained to your bourgeois daylight hours. I’m talking about the kind of insomnia that sees me refreshing websites that don’t update at night, over and over, because I am too tired to concentrate enough to navigate to actual content. The kind of insomnia that can play Tetris for seven straight hours and never get past level ten. The kind where I’ve occasionally laid in bed actually crying because I want to sleep so, so badly.

This is my whole life, basically — certainly my life past puberty. When I took my GREs I hadn’t slept in three days. I got the scores back and literally didn’t even know I had taken the test, which was awesome because I drove to it. I have ground most of the enamel off my teeth because the mouthguard my dentist gave me keeps me awake. Everything keeps me awake. When the cat drinks from her bowl in the kitchen, the sound of her tongue keeps me awake in the bedroom.

And now I have a fiance.

If Disney had made a princess movie starring a 6’4″ tattooed guy with a beard and glasses and enough muscle to pick up a couch with one hand, that princess would sleep the way my fiance does. When he has to fly at 5am, he’ll say things like, “Well, we should leave the house at 3am, so I’m going to go to bed at 7:30 tonight so I have enough sleep.” Then he puts his dinner dish in the sink, brushes his teeth, packs his suitcase, lays down in bed and actually does it. I’ve never seen him take more than five minutes to fall asleep — and I’ve had ample opportunity, as we’ve lived together for two years and in that time I’ve never once fallen asleep before him.

He’s not a perfect sleeper (he’s occasionally sleepwalked, and sleeps very lightly) but every time he wakes up he just falls right back to sleep. It’s enraging enough to make me occasionally — usually around 5am when I’m just sitting in bed waiting for his alarm to go off — wonder if he’d nod off so easily with a mouthful of fist. (Spoiler alert: I’ve never actually punched him, but I think the answer would be yes.)

Being an insomniac is bad enough. Being an insomniac in love with a good sleeper is its own special kind of torture. Here’s a nightly schedule:

  • 10:30. Fiance, who works an early schedule, goes to bed. I go in with him for cuddling, because I want him to at least associate some positive thoughts with me and bed, and we both know what’s coming.
  • 10:35. Fiance falls asleep. I do the routine; make sure his blankets are good, refill his water glass, turn off the radio. That sounds ’50s housewife, yes, but I know if I don’t the guilt later will be enough to keep me awake even more.
  • 10:40. My night life begins. The first three hours are me trying to tire myself out. I do mentally taxing activities — writing, video games, money management, a fair amount of wedding planning. I try to make schedules and get a little ahead on work so my anxiety will have fewer anchorages to latch onto later.
  • 2am. I start trying to wind myself down with Sleep Literature tricks — yoga, directed thinking, breathing exercises.
  • 3:30. The tricks haven’t worked, and I’ve thought of at least four things I still need to do. I figure, why not do them now, since I’ll just obsess about them anyway?
  • 4am. Go to bed. Fiance is woken up by: me opening the door, me opening the pajama drawer, me getting into bed, every microscopic motion I make once I’m in bed. Some of the wakings are accompanied by him getting more blankets or getting a drink, which means he’s awake longer and I feel bad. Sometimes they’re accompanied by him asking sleepily, “You need anything, babe?” which just stab me in the heart already, why don’t you.
  • 4:30am. Sleeping in here isn’t happening; I’ve been lying as stiff as a cadaver listening to his breathing with my teeth gradually turning into cornmeal. Either I stay in this position, my muscles freezing in shape, for another hour until his alarm goes off, or I go lay on the futon. Most nights I go lay on the futon.
  • Sometime during the next day. Him to me: “Hey babe, I’m sorry if I wasn’t much fun to sleep next to last night. What can I do? I hate seeing you sleeping out on the futon.” And then my heart breaks forever.

Recently, I’ve gotten a job that gives me proper benefits, and as it turns out, we live in a region with a few really good sleep specialization centers. So I’m finally biting the bullet and getting some tests done — probably an MRI and I might sleep for a few nights in a university basement with Science Pads glued to my head. But gradually I’ve been wanting one solution more than anything else, even more than strong drugs (which is saying something, because I really want strong drugs): Separate beds, like Ozzie and Harriet.

I get my own blankets, I don’t have to feel like every time I roll over I’m ruining his sleep, and we get to be in the same room every night in touching distance.

I finally sat the fiance down and discussed it with him. I had no idea how he’d react — I mean, how weird is that? This is literally a piece of furniture that is not made for adults. We would have to buy children’s beds and probably decoupage over the vinyl Buzz Lightyear decals with pages from Dwell. Plus, there’s the rejection factor. What if he thought I meant I didn’t want to sleep with him, you know, in the Biblical sense, anymore? What if he thought it meant I was subconsciously disgusted by him? What if it made him resent me? What if this was the death knell that would be the end of all our joy, and I’d spend the rest of my life alone on my tiny twin bed, looking across the nightstand at what might have been?

His response? “Oh man, could we maybe get bunk beds? That’d be SWEET!”

I love this man. And I guess this will work out.

Comments on The agony of sleeping together when you have insomnia (and my Ozzie and Harriet solution)

  1. Have you tried ASMR vids on YouTube? They help me relax A LOT. Like, can’t make it through one without nodding off.

    • As a fellow insomniac, I can attest that ASMR helps… might not be a miracle cure, but it helps greatly… if you experience ASMR, that is.

      • ASMR YES YES YES

        Added benefit: The tingles.

        Unfortunate side-effect: People who catch you watching the videos will think you have a strange fetish for whispery foreign girls.

          • I know I’m like, 6 months late to this thread, but I’d also recommend binaural beats. I have experienced insomnia like what you’ve described for most of my adult life and this has helped me a TON. I think that the the idea is pretty similar to ASMR (which I’d not heard of before this thread), it’s basically biofeedback where you listen to tones (that may or may not actually be audible to you, they are usually blended with some white noise or background noise) that are designed to relax you and help you sleep. It sounds pretty weird and new agey, but dammit, it works for me. I downloaded an app called sleep machine binaural beats for my iphone and it’s the best $1.99 I’ve ever spent. I used to worry that the noise from the app would bother/annoy my dude but the app I use lets you pick a blend of background noise, and he really likes the rain storm and crackling fireplace, so it’s a win/win. 🙂

      • Autonomous sensory meridian response. I just Googled ASMR. I guess people make videos with different sounds that are supposed to give you the tingles and help you relax.

        • After watching a few of these….Yup, relaxing, but would definitely be awkward to be caught watching.

          • Aiyee watched a little bit and was like what in the world is this woman saying? And then she got closer and closer and I’m all omgosh I’m at WORK!

            I’ll take a look at this at home…

  2. Bunk beds would be amazeballs!! 🙂 But not for that reason. 🙁 Hopefully they figure out your insomnia and you get some relief!!! I have a little insomnia related to a few obsessive compulsions (I have to check that the door is locked. A lot. Among other things.) and general anxiety, but NOTHING like what you suffer from.

    Also I want exotic meats and to read your short stories and his detective series.

    • As someone who shared a bunk bed set for 10 years with a sibling – this will not prevent the other sleeper from waking up when you finally climb into bed. The frames are attached so you will still be shaking their bed.

      Bunk beds rule otherwise though. Excellent for building forts. Top bunk for life.

      • You can get bunk beds that are two separate pieces (basically a long legged bed and a short legged bed), this would avoid the bed shaking.

        • In my guest room we have this setup, only the lower bed is actually a mattress and boxspring on the floor, so there’s totally no movement at all.

          • Well, with our current apartment, separate beds in any conformation aren’t really an option, but it’s something we’ll be looking at when we move.

  3. I have terminal insomnia, which means falling asleep is not too bad when I follow my routine, but I wake way too early and can’t get back to sleep. My husband is an easy sleeper, he effortlessly falls asleep not matter what the routine or if he’s in an unfamiliar bed. It’s so hard lying there waiting for the alarm to go off and trying not to wriggle, or sigh, or turn on the light and read to kill time. I never thought of separate beds as a solution!

  4. Those bunk beds with a queen on the bottom and a single on the top might actually be a pretty clever solution. Then, you could still have a nice comfy space for bed sharing when you want it, and a separate space within touching distance when you don’t!

    • I once saw a bunk double bed, like, king size on the bottom and king size on the top. It was like fifteen years ago at a friend’s of a friend’s of a friend’s place, and I still remember it.

  5. I’ll be curious to hear how this works. I am the opposite side of the couple you just described, and for real, if my partner doesn’t get her insomnia fixed, I might die of sleep deprivation.

  6. I really hope bunk beds and sleep centers help you.

    Completely unrelated note but sorry I have to ask: where can I stalk your scifi short stories and your husband’s upcoming YA series of awesome-sounding steampunk? Both sound fantastic!

  7. Wow. *waves from Salem, MA* Hello, neighbor. I do not have your degree of insomnia (yet), but I do toss and turn for hours before falling asleep, and once I’m asleep, I talk, moan, grumble, whistle, swear, sing-you name it. If I have an nightmare (at least 1x a week), I scream in my sleep until my husband shakes me awake.

    Strange, but from non-nightmares I also wake easily, and the stress of jolting awake to noises wakes me up so much it takes hours to fall back asleep. I often wish not only for my own bed but for my own bedroom. Except during the nightmares-then I’m glad he shakes me awake quickly.

  8. I read this, and at least one of the comments, and I think it’s a little odd that you’re so worried about waking him up by wriggling in bed. It’s your bed too! You should be able to sleep in it and feel comfortable, and if that involves moving, well, he’ll learn to deal with it, the same way you might have to deal with his snoring (or even breathing. I swear, I couldn’t handle him sleeping towards me just because I could feel him breath on me). I mean, if I was aware that my fiance was lying completely stiff in bed because he was scared of shifting and waking me, I’d be heartbroken. Shift! Get comfortable! Read if you want (though, on that note, eReaders with Glow are awesome)! Sleeping together is an adjustment for both people, it seems unfair that one person is doing all the freaking out to keep the other comfortable.

    I’m totally the one who has trouble falling asleep at night in my bed, but my fiance also does a lot of shifting in the night too. And I even come to bed late and need to turn on the bathroom light just to work my way into the bed. He wakes up for a moment, then falls back asleep. I just try not to feel guilty, because well, he’s the one who snores and twitches in his sleep.

  9. This. x10. This is exactly what happens to me, except mine comes and goes. Usually around 10:30 he’ll be all “I’m tired…sleep???” And then he’ll ask me if I’m going to come to bed with him and pouts when most of the time I tell him “no.” But I do our routine and get the bedroom ready for sleep. And then I tuck him in and kiss him good night and then at some point I look at the time and think “Maybe I should at least TRY to sleep” and then I don’t actually sleep. My mind is racing over a million things at once. Thankfully though my husband sleeps like a rock. Half the time I could probably shove him off the bed and he’d sleep right through it. I guess that part is good. If given the opportunity I will actually sleep during the day thought. I take a lot of naps because of the lack of sleep at night. I wish we could do something as easy as bunk beds or even the 1950s twins. I just can’t bear to be that far apart from him at night.

  10. When we first moved in together, my now-husband came to bed later than I did, and would snuggle up to me to say goodnight. Which would wake me up, and I lay there staring at the ceiling for ages while he snoozed like a baby. We ended up compromising by snuggling for a bit right when I go to bed, then he goes back to whatever he was doing for an hour or two.

    I tend to have the problem of whirling thoughts in my head keeping me from getting to sleep, and one of the tricks I’ve found is boring podcasts, played at a low enough volume that I have to lie very still and quiet in order to hear the words! There’s one which is a review of infectious disease medical literature that does a number on me. And if I don’t fall asleep, hey, maybe I’ve learned something. I think it’s partly the boring-ness and partly the way I have to concentrate to hear the words, so my brain can’t waste mental energy in throwing everything I’ve ever done wrong or left undone at me.

    My husband bought me a headband with earbuds in it from ThinkGeek for Valentine’s Day 2010, and it worked even better–now I associate it with going to sleep enough that sometimes I don’t need to play anything. I just put the headband on and get sleepy.

    We have found that now, after almost 4 years of sharing a bed, we’ve gotten used enough to the other person moving that we usually don’t wake up when the other person moves around. If I move a bit, I can hear his breathing change as he comes out of sleep just enough to realize it was me, then goes back down, and he doesn’t remember it in the morning, and vice versa.

    We helped *that* along by buying a king-size bed with a mattress that has individually-wrapped coils so they don’t transmit movement. We considered a foam mattress which is supposed to do the same thing, but didn’t want to drop the money on it.

    • We have a memory foam mattress, and it’s AWESOME. Fortunately, neither my husband nor I are insomniacs… but it does help to have a little less movement being transmitted through the mattress. Though it is possible to be sucked into the “valley” created in the foam when you are the smaller partner, and you sleep close. Haha.

    • Yeah, we did a king size memory foam mattress to help us sleep better togehter, too! Though I also think two beds would work. And we snuggle before I go to sleep and after I’m asleep he knows not to wake me…unless the baby needs something, because once I’m awake it’s really really really hard to go back to sleep. Darn anxiety!

    • I highly, highly recommend a king-sized bed with a high-quality mattress (I hate memory foam, but the individually-wrapped coils did the trick for us), as well as separate blankets on the bed.

      You get cuddling, and you also get the same amount of space you’d otherwise get in a single bed, which worked well for us! 🙂 Separate blankets also meant no waking up the partner to argue over blanket ownership at 2am.

      If you really want non-child single beds, though, a lot of older folk had lovely bedroom sets with matching twin beds, and, as they move out of their homes, those are being sold. Keep an eye on Craigslist or Kijiji or put out an ad saying you’re looking for them (or, if you’re in Quebec, message me!) and you’ll likely find pretty bed frames…

      • Noooooo! Bed bug epidemic , especially on the coasts. Dont buy things like beds used !! We had bed bugs and they are impossible to kill, plus my husband has anxiety and would be up all night thinking about them biting. During extermination we had to put everything we own through the dryer. Everything. Not worth it !!!!

        • Based on what I know, you take apart the frame and scrum everything and don’t let any textile in the house, but furniture itself isn’t usually full of bugs! Just don’t use the mattresses!

  11. We are that couple, though I’m the sound sleeper. About six months into our relationship, we realized that a full-size bed was not going to work (he’s 6’3″ and a big guy, I’m not a pixie girl), and the easiest thing to do was buy a twin and shove them together. Worked fairly well, as we each had our own sheets/blankets, but could easily cuddle, etc. before rolling over and sleeping.

    Fast forward another year, another house–not enough space in our master bedroom for that particular configuration. So we upgraded to a queen and kept the twin, but they had to be on different walls (weird L-shaped room). So now we have one bed for us as a couple, and I use the twin for sleeping. Since our daughter came along, we’ve switched off occasionally if she needed to co-sleep with me.

    This arrangement–though I admit it occasionally makes me a bit sad due to some sense of weird nostalgia–has been AMAZING for our sleep. He has far less insomnia, and I never, ever feel guilty that I might wake him up by stealing all the covers (which I always do). When we travel and occasionally share a king-size bed, we both wake up less rested (me) and cranky and sleep-deprived (him).

    My birthday present next month is a queen size bed for me, so our oddly-shaped bedroom will have two queens and one happily married couple. 🙂

  12. My husband and I have both struggled with insomnia, on and off since we started dating (his is greatly aided by a very very rigid schedule. Mine is greatly aided by a complete lack of any stressors in life which is so laughable I don’t even think about it).

    Getting over the weird cultural taboo we have about sleeping in different places at two different times has helped a lot. Sometimes he sleeps on the couch. Sometimes I sleep on the couch. Sometimes he falls asleep playing solitaire on the laptop. Sometimes I fall asleep with my glasses on clutching my ebook reader. Our mantra has been, “Any sleep is the best kind of sleep,” and so far it has relieved a lot of the stress associated with insomnia (which is a vicious cycle for me).

    But also, yeah. We don’t really worry about waking each other up any more, or it becomes a “Gift of the Magi” situation where he’s sacrificing his mental health to accommodate me, and I’m doing the same. Not productive.

  13. My husband has an irregular internal clock. It hurt me a bit early in our relationship to find him passed out on the couch, but doesn’t anymore. Sometimes he’s in bed with me when I wake up, sometimes not. If you think that will help you sleep, I don’t see why it’s not worth a shot. Sometimes when he tries to get in bed it seems like he wakes me up, but I don’t remember it in the morning, so I was probably never actually awake. Have you thought about putting your pjs on when your fiance goes to sleep? It seems like one less interruption.

  14. Neither one of us had any clinical sleep issues, and we STILL have a king-sized bed with separate blankets. Sleeping together is a difficult transition, even if both of you are sleeping beauties in separate beds. He snores like a damn freight train, and there were times when I just wanted to punch him in the face. I have always been a white-noise sleeper, and running a fan, even in the winter, cuts down on some of the shuffling noise the people make when they roll over. While it might not make you fall asleep, you can feel a little less guilty about disturbing him with drawer-opening and creaking floor boards.

  15. I have a friend who does this! Not only does she and her husband keep separate beds, they actually keep separate rooms, that way she can go to bed at 9:30, and her husband can stay awake until whenever without bothering her. Her husband can also set different boundaries with the cats, since he does not like cats in his bed, whereas she’s a cuddler.

    • Oh my gosh I’m almost heading to this point.

      My partner likes to read before bed. Me? I need PITCH BLACKNESS. And silence. I also go to bed relatively early because I wake up early, and he stays up a bit later than I do. Also he’s a bedhog and tries to steal my pillow out from under me. The nerve!

      I have no idea how to even bring something like this up, though.

  16. I say go for it. Sleep is critical for you both. We have a spare bedroom and there are nights when my lovely husband snores, just faintly. But if i wake up and he’s snoring even a little the odds of me falling back asleep are about *zero*. At first i really didn’t want to go to the second bedroom, now, I just KNOW that there is no way in HELL i want to lay there for hours *almost* falling asleep, over and over. I just get up and go in there, and sleep. It’s glorious.

  17. I am also an insomniac, but my case is probably different than yours since mine is caused by anxiety, depression, stress and anti-social tendencies. I’m also engaged to a guy who can not only fall asleep on command, but can do it anywhere in any position. I can relate to your guilt but I’ve gotten over it, because he rarely remembers when I’ve woken him up anyway. I don’t understand the nature of your condition, but here’s my go to system:
    1. If my fiance’s noise is keeping me up I have ear plugs and an eye cover. This not only tunes him into a dull murmur, but it increases the sound of your own breathing which is rhythmic and helpful
    2. If my mind is thinking too much I read. Seriously, just a couple pages of a comic book and my eyes will struggle to stay open. It’s really just to get the mind somewhere else that doesn’t cause anxiety.
    3. Day time Exercise. This is my current solution since I’m working out for my wedding dress. My body is so tired by the time I hit the sack I am done. It’s important not to confuse this with “exercise if you can’t sleep to tire yourself out”. That has the reverse effect.
    4. Warm bath. Another kryptonite for me. I just sit in the tub for like 10 minutes. Also not to be confused with SCALDING HOT BATH, which also has the reverse effect. You’ll just end up sweaty hot in bed.

    I’ve been an insomniac my entire life, so this took 24 years or so to figure out. But it always works!

    • I second ear plugs and face mask. I struggled with sleep for 10+ years (pretty much gone now and it disappeared right when I switched to a vegan diet, which is bizarre and a totally seperate conversation) and I don’t know why it took me so long to do this. Even if I didn’t *think* noise and light were keeping me up, I fell asleep much faster (still not fast by an average person’s standards) with an eye mask on and earplugs in. I still have a bedside drawer full of earplugs actually, just in case.

      • weird that when I switched to veganism my insomnia pretty much went away too.. never heard of anyone else who has experienced that. cool!

    • hello, this could be years since your message i dont know… i was just wondering if i could ask a few questions about your insomnia.
      I feel i have a similar situation. But there are some other points i felt people havent mentioned much about, and im wondering if im the only one. I have developed over the years an immediate unpleasant reaction to the noise of people snoring or even just breathing. Even if im not in bed trying to sleep… the sound of it is like nails down a blackboard. It makes me angry and i cant stand it. But if i am in bed about to sleep or trying to sleep, i very quickly get very angry i have violent thougts and feel like attacking my partner. I never have, and never would, but it omits a strong energy and he picks up on it and becomes restless himself, either in his dreams or he wakes. It causes all kinds of problems, if i dont sleep and i want to sleep else where he takes it personally and gets upset, i have also told him cuddling and kissing etc is good but when its time to sleep i really need space (i wear earplugs and usually a face mask) and calm. so i like it if we can move to our own side of the bed preferably facing away. I.e i very much do not like his face snuggled up to my ear… when inevitably he will be asleep in 5 seconds and sets me off to a very bad start to the night. Still he does this regularly. People might think i should just move him over but this also casuses him to get upset. Sometimes very much so. He says he feels rejected etc.
      I have told him i love him and this is nothing personal and also the depths of the anguish caused by the insmonia, but he continues to take it personally. I feel some inner fear of upsetting him and so feel trapped.
      Anxiety is almost guaranteed to set in here and can easy start a 1 or 2 hour sleep night. If that. If i have a wrestless night and wake several times but drift off again with some fidgeting, this causes him to have a bad sleep and he can be upset in the morning. He offers to sleep in the spare room most nights and i do want it but then i dont as well and i can tell he doesnt want to so its hard to ask him to.
      The most disturbing thing is that i know the reason for my life long problem with insomnia is due to childhood/early adult traumas, stress and anxiety. This comes up a lot when i cant sleep. the connection with past pain and insomnia is very strong as i know its the cause and so i feel unsuported and misunderstood about the whole issue. The pain that can surface at any moment is quite strong and just because he is feeling a bit tired and grumpy he will over look the fact i have this serious upset. I have decided from now on to sleep seperatly and go from there. I just feel like its driving us apart, and i dont know what to do about it.

  18. This is totally my husband and me, to a lesser degree. He works crazy hours that have him going to bed at 6 or 7 p.m. (and he actually sleeps!) and getting up at 1 or 2 a.m. When he started that schedule, I would come in at 9 or 10 and toss and turn and wake him up. And he works in transportation, so being sleep-deprived could really hinder him or cause him to kill himself or someone else.

    It’s so much easier for me to sleep on the couch until he gets up for work, at which point I zombie-walk into our bedroom and take the whole warm bed for myself. I usually don’t have trouble getting back go sleep.

    On nights when he doesn’t work, we sleep together and it’s not a problem. Whenever I mention our sleeping arrangements to people we know, they look at me like I’m a total freak. Glad we’re not the only people in this situation!

  19. NO GUILT!
    My husband and I often end up in separate sleeping areas. He snores like a damn freight train (Every time I have met any of his friends they are aghast that I can sleep with him). I have to race to get to sleep, otherwise I am up until dawn. If he doesn’t fall asleep in 20 minutes I am out like a light and his mind is racing. Whenever one of us can’t sleep we go to the couch or spare bed, dick around for a while and then sleep there. No harm, no foul.
    Sleep is your number one most important thing ever! You need it, do whatever weird things you gotta do to git ya’ some!

  20. You might try getting rid of every activity that involves a blue-spectrum light (television, computers, iPads, almost anything tech-related, even some alarm clocks) an hour and a half before bed. Blue light triggers our brains to stay awake. Red light does not. I’ve heard of people who turn off all electric lights and go to candles until they are ready for bed.

    Making lists is a good idea if it helps you empty out your brain from things you feel like you need to carry in it, otherwise the whole “mentally taxing activities” thing is just going to wind you up more before bed time. This is the time of day to read gossip rags, take a nice bath, or other lightweight brain candy – NOT money management for the love of all that is good and fuzzy!

    • Oh, and if separate beds is what it takes then I’m all for it. Mouthguards, CPAP, pills, separate rooms, whatever you have to do to ensure everyonegets a good night’s sleep. It is so important to physical and psychological health. (And “sneaking” from room to room for nighttime excursions is fun 😉 )

    • There is software you can install on your computer so your monitor will switch to red-spectrum instead of blue-spectrum light in the evenings. Supposedly it’s supposed to reduce some of those effects. http://stereopsis.com/flux/ Candles are nice though too 🙂

    • I do NOT suffer from insomnia, but I have to say my entire nighttime routine changed when I started reading on a kindle (the not-backlit kind) before bed. Suddenly, I was asleep an hour earlier than usual. Suddenly, my brain wasn’t racing when the light went out.

      Blue-spectrum light keeping you awake: NOT A JOKE.

      • Yes, I know the author was not looking for advice on her sleep habits but the first thing I thought was that her first pass ‘get to sleep activities’ are TERRIBLE for insomnia, involving blue light and topics that are naturally hard to stop thinking about (wedding, money and getting to the level!). I can also understand the second-pass recommended activities not working because by then you’re so anxious from the first set activities (both their inherent details and the fact that you’re still not sleepy).

        That said, the two beds/bunk bed solution is also a good idea, and shouldn’t engender any guilt. My grandparents slept in separate (trundle) beds and they were married 50 years. On the other hand, my guy and I have sleep problems WITHOUT each other, so when we slept in those same beds it was…kind of a tight fit.

  21. Bunk beds are a good idea, because they make them where the bottom bunk is a double or a queen, which is more convenient for snuggling. The person who gets up more often/goes to bed later might want to claim the bottom bunk, so the ladder climbing doesn’t disrupt the sleeper!

    And then, in searching for such a bunkbed to link you to, I discovered that they make queen over queen bunk beds. Out of LOGS. Check it out: http://www.blackforestdecor.com/dolribubed1.html?gclid=CPOa2Lar3LQCFaN_Qgod9RQAXw

    I hope your insomnia improves!

  22. Hah, I was literally going to write this post next week and submit it. I’ve had insomnia my entire life–some of my earliest memories are of not being able to sleep. Co-sleeping with anyone is hell for me, but my Viking is also very very bad at it.

    Separate beds will help. Separate rooms would probably help even more. Viking and I are looking for a new place right now and and I will have my own room. And it will be glorious.

    • Your Viking! I love it. Possibly also because I, too, suck at co-sleeping, and I too have a Viking co-sleeper. A wonderful, wonderful gentleman whose snores make a freight train sound like a kitten purr. I, on the other hand, twitch and moan like a dog dreaming of the hunt. Viking-Husband struggles with chronic insomnia, and while I’m normally quite a sound sleeper, co-sleeping tends to turn into co-tired-anxiety-time for both of us. So we’ll both tell you, go for the separate rooms if you can. Sometimes I do feel like maybe we’re missing out on some magical intimacy that other couples have, and sometimes I do feel a little anxious about being alone in a separate room at night, but we both sleep better (which causes less anxiety and bad attitude for us in general), and I find that snuggling as part of a pre-bedtime routine helps greatly. Also he has a Queen-size bed, so on nights where one or both of us is lonely, we have the option to sleep or snuggle together if we want. And it’s extra sneaky-fun when we decide to have naughty times. 😉

      For the original poster, if you are interested in any outside perspectives on possible insomnia aid, from what I understand of my husband’s insomniac struggles, he sleeps much more soundly if he has experienced a goodly amount of physical activity during the day, physical activity of pretty much any kind. He’s also a big worrier, so he sleeps better if something during the day gave him a sense of accomplishment, which makes him less likely to stay awake worrying about other stuff. Sometimes if there’s something he’s really worried about, he’ll go ahead and tackle it, or part of it anyway, and he’ll keep a running list/schedule of the stuff that he’s concerned about and what he can do to take care of it. We’re both list-makers and that has helped with both of us and our particular brands of anxiety. I totally sympathize with the angsting over your partner’s sleeping habits!

  23. My boyfriend has (Dr. Diagnosed)ADD and is(diagnosed, by me) narcoleptic. If he doesn’t keep moving or interested it’s instant lights out. I on the other hand have Insomnia and Hypersomnia. I cant fall asleep but when I do I cant wake up and sleep for 10+ hours and have been known to sleep for 15+. So many nights I lay like a zombie in bed contemplating pushing him out of bed just to see what would happen, and knowing I’m going to be late for work the next day. What we’ve found that helps is doing the separate single beds but pushed up next to each other, our own sheets and blankets but my tossing cant wake him up and we still feel as though we’re sleeping together. Plus a king sized bedspread covers both mattresses so you don’t have to answer any annoying “are you guys ok?” questions when your parents come to visit. . . or maybe that’s just mine. Good luck to all of us and Bon Nuit!!

    • I am similar- can’t fall asleep when I want to for the life of me, but when I do I’m out forever ( I have absolutely slept 16+ hours- way more if I’m sick.). Oddly enough, it’s quite possible I have narcolepsy. I have a friend who has extremely similar issues, and they think that’s what she has. Narcolepsy isn’t just about falling asleep anytimes- it has to do with REM cycles. I can literally fall asleep and have a dream in a blink if I’m tired enough- it’s nuts. And many narcoleptics have bad insomnia at night. I have also been an insomniac my whole life- I think my sleep schedule is different than others- even as an infant, I apparently never fell asleep before midnight. It sounds to me like at least one of the OPs issue is anxiety. I used to have anxiety which would keep me up until dawn because I was freaking out that I wasn’t asleep yet. So, I moved the clock so I couldn’t see it, installed a light from IKEA so that I could read, but was still on the dim side, so he could sleep, and I also bought him a really nice, high quality sleep mask so the light wouldn’t bug him. So now I go to bed with him, but then I read until I fall asleep. The light is close enough to me so I can turn it off from bed, which is important. I don’t look at the clock or think about the time. I think I generally fall asleep about 1 or 2 am, though, which is a huge improvement from before. I also made its rule that I have to have one day over the weekend that I plan to sleep in- like until noon. If I don’t, I am like a zombie the rest of the week and its awful. Fortunately or unfortunately, having my guy in bed makes it so much easier to fall asleep- I don’t get the isolated depressed feelings I used to because he is there, and he is a great cuddler, even while asleep. I worry sometimes I affect his sleep, and I might, but I can’t think about it or it will be much worse. However, if we had separate beds, that would also be worse. But it works for now, and I have actually been sleeping now more regularly than any time of my life. However, if you think separate beds will do it for you, all the more power to you. Getting sleep is so important- especially to people. Who have a hard time getting it.

  24. Seriously, if separate beds is going to help you, then do it. The boy and I are pretty much a 2-bedroom couple. He snores and I’m the lightest sleeper ever. Seriously, ANYTHING will wake me up and its worse now that I have cats and mom ears. And it drives me bananas that he can legitimately lay down and go to sleep in 5 minutes. It can take me up to an hour.

    When we first started dating and he would stay over, he’d stay on the couch because his snoring would keep me up. And his snoring was bad. Once my roommate moved out and until the king sized bed got here, he was STILL sleeping on the couch and I slept in bed. Now we have our bed (the king), and my old bed (the full) in the office. I end up sleeping in the office most nights because I like my space and I need relative silence to go to sleep – plus I tend to toss and turn a lot – since we both need our sleep, this is the best solution. I hate it sometimes and people think its weird, but we’re working on me seeing someone to sleep better, and since he’s been taking an inhaler regularly, his snoring is better. I do sleep through the night with him sometimes but I have to be super tired and go to bed first for it to work.

    Otherwise, this is what’s worked for me when it comes to actually falling asleep:

    1. No caffeine after 1:30pm. No soda with caffeine or no decaf coffee. Surprisingly, this has helped considerably to make me tired by 10 or 10:30 and I don’t miss the extra caffeine.

    2. No extra chocolate after 8pm. Like I can have ice cream that has chocolate in it or chocolate ice cream but no chocolate sauce in addition to it.

    3. I try to shut off lights around 9:30 or 10 and get off my computer. I can still watch tv but I do it in semi-darkness. I still do check facebook or twitter on my phone though.

    4. I don’t watch TV in bed anymore at all hardly. We don’t have cable in our bedroom so its really just watching dvds before bed (an episode of West Wing or The Tudors here and there) but not doing anything in bed except sex or sleeping has really helped my brain associate the fact the bed is for sleeping. I still do read in there at night, but reading is always something that’s made me tired so that’s ok.

    I was so excited to see this article on here, so thank you for writing it.

    Also, hello neighbor! *Waves from Metrowest-ish, MA*

    • I’m a person who needs a good 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night… or people don’t like me and I don’t like myself. My husband is a sleep procrastinator. I used to go to bed by 10 every night and get up refreshed and in plenty of time to not be rushing to get ready for work. Now, not so much. I take melatonin every night at least an hour before bed time. It helps tremendously! Makes me nice and relaxed and sleepy. So he can read his smart phone with the light on and I’m usually passed out before he gets the lights off.

    • Could your sweetie have sleep apnea, as a cause for all the snoring? My hubby started using a cpap machine, which helps him not snore and we’re able to sleep in the same room…before…we were lucky to sleep in the same building 🙂

      • It’s possible, but ever since he started using an inhaler on a regular basis (twice a day) to deal with his asthma (and this also means no more 11pm trips to the ER because he can’t breathe), it’s helped cut the snoring down tremendously so we can occasionally sleep in the same bed.

  25. I am also yearning for separate beds, and my husband seems cool with the idea. We’re currently figuring out if we want to get two separate bedframes (to place right next to each other) or get a large bedframe and put two twin mattresses side by side in it, which is easily hackable. The final decision will definitely be financially based, but both options will give us what we’re looking for. Bonus: two twin (or long twin, since my husband is also 6’4) mattresses are WAY easier to move than a king mattress!

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