Till Snores Do Us Apart: Is Marriage Ruining Your Sleep?

Sleep plays a major role in your wellbeing, but it isn’t until you get married that you realise how it impacts family wellness. You and your spouse may have completely incompatible sleep styles, which could spell relationship trouble down the line. According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, one in four American couples sleep in separate beds due to interference with sleep. Plus, sleep wellness expert Dr. Volpi, founder of New York and California’s premier Eos Sleep Centres, argues that snoring is one of the top three reasons for divorce in the US. So is it separate beds until death do you part, or might you parting a little earlier due to your spouse’s incessant snores? Not if we can help it! Here are some top tips for coupling up on your sleep habits.


1. Use your bed for its intended purposes, and nothing else: You may like to have a cheeky game of Angry Birds in bed while your spouse drifts off in the middle of the news, but the bedroom should be used for the two greatest gifts in life; sleep and sex. Dr. Volpi urges, ‘It’s imperative that couples avoid eating, watching TV or using electronics in bed. It’s been scientifically proven that the light from TV and computer screens affects melatonin production and throws off circadian rhythms. Plus, working in bed won’t help couples wind down and ease into sleep.’


2. Stick to a sleep schedule: Dr. Volpi asserts, ‘Going to bed and waking up at different times every day is a sleep destroyer, and is easy to do when couples have different work or social schedules. In order to practice good sleep hygiene, couples should get into a pattern of going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day, including weekends.’


3. Lessen that snoring as much as possible: ‘For some people, an increased amount of airway obstruction occurs when they sleep on their backs; this is known as positional snoring,’ Dr Volpi explains. ‘Many times snorers come to me complaining of being “frequently assaulted” through the night by their bed partner in an effort to get them to roll over.’ If you’re the snorer question, try sleeping on your side. This can be difficult to maintain once you drift off, so try sewing a ball into your T-shirt pocket, and wear it backwards during sleep. That way, you’ll roll back onto your side whenever you attempt lying on the ball. In addition, extra pillows can elevate the head, which can also prevent snoring.


4. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual: ‘When your body gets used to a night time routine, the brain is tricked into knowing that it’s ready for bed, and naturally calms the body,’ says Dr. Volpi. A study published in Sleep, suggests winding down together by taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime can help. The sleep expert explains, ‘The hot water raises body temperature, and cool air in the bedroom lowers skin temperature, which triggers your body to produce melatonin and become drowsy.’


5. No alcohol or sleep medications before bedtime: A recent study in the British Medical Journal has found that taking sleep medications makes you four times more likely to die than those who don’t take the pills. You may therefore be tempted to self-medicate with a night cap or two, but Dr. Volpi warns against relying on sleep medications or alcohol as sleep aids. He notes, ‘Even if you think they’ll help you fall asleep initially, alcohol and medicines that make you drowsy can affect your sleep throughout the night. Alcohol and sedatives also cause the throat and tongue muscles to relax even further than usual, exacerbating snoring.’

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