The information in this "article" is based on the work of Paul Rosenblatt, PhD, professor of family social science at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities who wrote Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing and the information contained in several articles.
The "article" that follows is a conglomeration of the information cited above and, while it is based on my research, it is not based on any actual clinical studies and should not be used to diagnose or treat any sleep issues.
In other words, I made it all up for fanfic purposes; don't try this at home.
Folks who have read my Star Trek fic will probably recognize the "author" of the article.
Welcome to kellyonlove! Here you'll find all of my articles on enhancing relationships, including the ones featured in national publications and on Oprah! It is my hope that the advice you find here will lead to a lifetime of love and happiness for you and your special someone. XOXO Kelly
This Sleeping Life by Kelly Flenderson, M.A, LPC
So you've finally got your man and things are going perfectly: long walks holding hands, giggling at Keeping up with the Kardashians, staring into one another's eyes, going shopping together, snuggling, kissing, sex, whispered confessions in the night...sharing a bed.
And, suddenly, things aren't so perfect any more, are they? No, they are not - because your hot hunk of love disappears and someone...something else takes their place: A bed hog, a flailer, a bag of rocks, a furnace...a bed sheet thief.
Sleep incompatibility is a serious issue. It affects thousands of couples every year and can lead to strain in the relationship, battles in the bedroom and even separation! But, it doesn't have to if you try a few simple things to tame the mattress-space-stealing, arm and leg flailing, stupidly heavy monster who has invaded your bed.
The first thing to do is talk. You need to sit your sweetie down and tell him what's going on while he's unconscious and create a plan together. Before you drop off, reiterate your plan so it's fixed in his mind – research indicates that holding a thought in one's mind before drifting off to sleep can do wonders.
Problem One – The Flailer: You know how it is. You're snuggled in beside your sweetie all cozy and warm in your penguin PJs and you're drifting off to sleep when, wham, he starts moving. A lot. Arms and legs jiggling like he's been electrocuted. You can't avoid the elbows and knees of pokiness, the leg and hip shaking of Elvis-ness. Your peaceful bed has been transformed into a 1940's jitterbug dance extravaganza – without the cute clothes and catchy music.
Solution: If you can afford it, buy a bigger mattress – more space means less chance that he'll poke you (in the bad way; you want him to poke you in the good way). Or encourage your man to engage in exercise (but be careful that he's done three hours before bedtime or he'll be up all night) or read him a boring book (anything by John Grisham does it for me). Watch C-Span. Anything that will put him in semi-coma before you head to bed. If he's worn out, he won't be flailing. And you'll be able to sleep.
Important note: Certain medical conditions, including restless leg syndrome, can cause restlessness. Make sure your honey talks to his doctor.
Problem Two – The Ice Box: Only Edward Cullen can make cold sexy but that doesn't stop your man from throwing the windows wide open even though there's ten inches of snow on the ground does it? Of course not - he sleeps just fine, oblivious to the fact that you're shivering like a Chihuahua.
Solution: Compromise. The window stays closed in cold temps, but turn the thermostat down by five degrees and then buy an electric blanket with dual controls so you can be toasty and he can be as icy as he wants…then encourage him to create some heat between you before you drift off into cozy slumber.
Problem Three – The Furnace: The opposite of The Ice Box, this man is a cuddler who puts off body heat like he's in Jacob Black's Wolf Pack. 98.6? Hah! His core temperature at night soars to at least 150 and you're sweating like you're in the tropics without the benefit of actually being there.
Solution: A combination of the approaches for The Flailer and The Ice Box problems: if you can afford it, a larger mattress – the more space between you means that you won't be as affected by his radiating waves of heat. You can dress in lighter p.j.s or just cover up with a sheet and light blanket. Encourage him to snuggle until he's about ready to fall asleep and then scoot him over to his side of the bed so you can luxuriate in the coolness of your side.
Problem Four - The Clinging Vine: Affection is great. We love affection. Except when it's the middle of the night and your love is slowly squeezing the life out of you like the giant anaconda in that . movie.
Solution: Make sure that he's getting plenty of contact during the day – love him out of his mind so he's not seeking touch in the middle of the night. Agree that you'll hold hands or rub your feet together as you fall asleep. Give him a body pillow and gently push him in its direction.
Problem Five - The Bed Hog: Your queen sized bed always seemedbig enough – until your sweetie started spending the night and made it his mission in the night to take up every available inch of mattress space. He sleeps on his back with his arms and legs spread out like a starfish and you're left clinging to the edge and praying that you won't end up on the floor.
Solution: Even buying a bigger mattress probably won't help this problem – your honey will likely just sprawl over the larger space, too; no, this takes Pavlovian conditioning: when your handsome guy morphs into a starfish poke him annoyingly all over his body (be careful not to wake him up!) – within a week he'll subconsciously connect sprawling out with being poked and should curl up so you can spoon him comfortably.
Problem Six – The Bed Sheet Thief: Your 500 count percale bed sheets are a wonder. You saved to buy them and you always, always follow the care directions – washing them on the gentle cycle and drying them on low. But now your cutie is stealing them nightly, leaving you exposed to the elements and without their comforting hold.
Solution: If you can afford it, buy a bigger set – if you have a queen-sized bed, buy sheets for a king-sized one. If that's out of the question, try more Pavlovian conditioning – poke him when he steals the sheet and, within a week, you'll be able to cuddle yourself up in your Egyptian cotton again.
Problem Seven - The Snorer: Does this really need an explanation? Didn't think so, so on to the….
Solution: First off, there are several medical issues that can cause snoring, one of them – obstructive sleep apnea – can even lead to heart disease – so having your love checked out by his doctor is imperative. In the meantime, your honey can try sleeping on his back, restricting his alcohol intake or using Breathe Right strips (they sure worked for me and the hubby).
As with all things, openness and communication is key in correcting your sleep incompatibility problems. Remember that you and your honey are striving for the same thing: a harmonious relationship in and out of bed.
This article, in a slightly altered form, was originally published in the October 2010 edition of Self. The information in this article was also featured on the October 5, 2010 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Kelly Flenderson, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and a doctoral (Psy.D.) candidate at La Salle University in Pennsylvania. She has appeared on several national talk shows on the topic of improving romantic relationships. She is also the author of many articles and her relationship advice blog is one of the most widely read in the country. Her first book, How to Get the Man You Want in Six Easy Steps, will be released in the summer of 2011. She and her family live in Scranton, PA.
10 latest comments of 1200
10/10/10: You, ma'am, are a genius – and I know a genius (he has taken several tests – some of them to measure his IQ – and has scored well on almost all of them: he, of course, maxes out the WAIS; has, thankfully, passed every blood test; and has protested the results of the personality testing ), so I am fully qualified to call you such. I had despaired of my colleagues working out their sleep compatibility issues – but this article truly saved their sleep and my sanity. Sincerely yours, JS in CA.
10/10/10: Kelly you are the best! You saved my relationship! XOXOX Kelly Erin
10/10/10: My husband apologizes for his earlier comment. He has decided that seeing his doctor about his snoring problem is infinitely better than sharing the sofa with a flatulent dog. Rachel in New York
10/10/10: My wife saw you on Oprah and, of course, she made me read this and I have this to say: this article is pop psychology at its worst – encouraging people to talk about things they have no control over? Stupid! Snoring is a part of life. My dad snores and my mom's been putting up with it for thirty-five years and is more than fine. My wife is talking about doctor's appointments and trying to make me wear Breathe-Right strips (which you are a total shill for, by the way – how much did they pay you for the product placement) and all kinds of ridiculous things. Whatever happened to "for better or for worse" and accepting people the way they are? That's what you should be preaching, Kelly Flenderson, acceptance not change. Jack in New York
10/10/10: So happy you wrote this article! No one ever talks about this stuff - it's all supposed to be magical cuddling and snuggling after incandescent sex but the reality totally sucks. Except for the sex. That is pretty good. Anyway, thanks! My boyfriend and I have some talking to do! Jenny
10/10/10: I saw you on Oprah and you were so awesome I had to come check out your website. I love you! Jenna
10/10/10: This is really cool, Kelly. Congrats! Pam and Jim
10/10/10: Breathe-Right strips are a lifesaver. TL
10/10/10: 3 Becky
10/10/10: I'm married to a man who keeps the windows open and a fan going all winter long - thanks for these tips! I'm definitely going to try your suggestions! Kerri in Dracut