Sleeping Together

Sex? Fine.

African American Couple in BedLovemaking? Even better.

But sleeping together – actually sleeping together?

Tricky. Very tricky. And for some of us, more so than others. Yes indeed – we’d probably follow the choice of the male lead in When Harry Met Sally. You know. Indulge your passions, then stare at the ceiling and wait just long enough to cause no ill will. Then jump up and head home – to sleep.

Care for a more recent cinematic example?

Sizzle, Sleep, and Sex & The City

We have the character of Miranda in Sex and the City – asking her live-in and eventual husband, Steve, how long they have to lie together and “cuddle.” It isn’t so much about not wanting to wake up next to the person you’ve just shared your body with (for some of us), but it’s all about getting some.

Sleep, that is.

It’s also about a brain that churns through the tasks of the day to come. It’s about distraction. It’s about scheduling. It’s about contemporary life and its demands.

Is it really that bad? Am I really that bad? And is “bad” a term that applies?

(Secret) Single Sleeping Behaviors

No, it’s not that I’m antisocial post-pleasurable-pastimes. I’m an ardent advocate of affection, but I’m also a light sleeper – and a chronically troubled one at that. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to be curled up with a hot man, legs intertwined, peacefully dreaming. But I simply can’t sleep that way, even when the opportunity presents.

And speaking of hot man, to what extent does body thermometer come into play? Are some of us more sensitive to our surroundings when it comes to sleep – painfully aware of even two degree differences in temperature? If we’re “hot” as it is, are we uncomfortably so when another body is making contact as we’re trying to sleep?

Living Alone, Sleeping Alone

Surely habit has a hand in this under-discussed domestic drama.

For me, a decade of solo parenting has cemented my conditioning, and prior to that, a traveling spouse left me to my own devices for years during which my sleep was regularly interrupted by one child or the other.

The fact is – I’m used to having the bed to myself and my ear ever-cocked to a kid in need. So my tossing and turning originates in its own consummate components – physical, psychological, and logistical.

Married Sex and Sleeping

Apparently I’m not the only adult who might choose solo time between the sheets with or without the Mattress Mambo coming into play.

According to this article from Woman’s Day, an increasing number of couples are choosing separate beds, if not separate bedrooms. And wasn’t this exactly the way it was in our grandparents’ day, and long before? While some stigma may be attached (if they don’t share a bed, do they really share a life?), it’s clear that a need for “space” in our clamoring and chaotic culture is a reasonable response to a desire for quiet. And yes, quality sleep.

Dating, Duos, and Do-Overs

As if dating weren’t drama enough, there’s aspiring to compatibility in terms of personality, hoping for a satisfying sex life, and most precarious of all – who sleeps where (side of the bed), who sleeps how (heat on or off), and also – who sleeps how long. (We won’t even discuss the issue of snoring. But might I please find a few hours rest somehow, somewhere?)

As I ponder possible futures (optimistically, I might add), I find myself encouraged by my fictional references. Harry and Sally eventually accomplish far more than a few hours of sleep following sex. They build on a long foundation of friendship, they accept each others’ foibles, and they forge a love relationship that seems solid. As for Miranda and Steve, they bed, they wed, and they offer each other comforts in their differences – and Miranda learns to sleep wrapped in her husband’s arms.

Your Turn

So what about you? When it comes to your snoozing hours, is your preference to be cradled in the limbs of a loved one? Pressed up against the skin of your spouse? Or do you wake, sprawled across the bed, gloriously claiming your own space?

Do you prefer to catch your zzzzs alone?

Come on. Truth time. How do you get your best night’s sleep – with or without your significant other?


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  1. says

    The more I live alone, the more I value having the bed all to myself. When it comes to sharing the bed (and activities within) I feel those times are over for me.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Ah Steve. Wonderful to hear from you. But you’re a kickin’-spring-chicken. And never say never, my friend…

  2. says

    No brainer for me. Double bed (no larger), often touching partner in some way if possible. I can’t sleep well fully intertwined – a limb or something loses circulation, so we start that way and then untwine. Our smallest two-person backpacking tent (ultra-light) – we need to turn over at same time. :) Of course, it’s whatever works for folks as a couple. Twin beds – you’ve got to be kidding. Not MY grandparents…no way!!!

  3. says

    I used to think I slept better alone. Turns out I have restless leg and now I sleep fine any where and any time. BUT DH’s parents sleep in separate beds and have for YEARS…she’s a night owl and he’s an early riser so this works for them. They’ve been married 50++ years so I guess they’d know.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      How do you manage to sleep fine anywhere with RLS, Soccer Mom? Ah, the issue of varying cycles. It sounds like DH’s parents have that figured out. And a lot of other things, as well!

  4. says

    Steve, I’m 68. Can you beat that? My Mom’s 101. We get older, but not out until we’re really out. However if we want something, we have to take responsibility to make it happen. It’s anyone’s choice. Privacy is fine, it’s just not me. Some adjustment for aging is fine and natural.

  5. NoNameRequired says

    Steve, you may be very surprised. But, I am realistic here, perhaps not. I believe in saying the truth of things, but also want to say that you could be very, very, very surprised.

    BLW — my sleep is broken always. I find that I simply need to say things like: I am in my bed and resting, so that is good. The spring air is soft and that is a joy. And, well, of course you worry, these stressors are real.

    But, one day per week, I wake saying: oh, that is a sweet person next to me. And, then I continue with the condition of the weather and what I might have to do in the AM… poor sleep for many years now, and I am crafting an attitude of reasonableness toward it. I do not have chronic pain, though. One of my children does… chronic pain is such a kill joy and sleep kill…

  6. says

    I’m an owl. Entrepreneur is a lark. He’s always asleep when I finally turn in and always up before the sun. Some nights, it’s amazing we don’t meet each other coming and going from the bedroom! King size bed so we both can sprawl, when we are actually in it together! 😉

  7. says

    Hmmm. We just got the kid out of our bed. Heaven. In fact, I thought that’s what you meant when I read the post title. But then I remembered this is an R rated blog.

    We shared one sink in our bathroom for years, finally couldn’t stand it anymore and had a double installed. Best purchase ever.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      You do make me chuckle, Wolf. The kids-in-parental-bed issue. A whole other matter…

  8. batticus says

    Home builders noticed the trend towards two main bedrooms a few years ago and it makes sense to me if you have different sleep styles. Sleep is important and it is much better to have a couple that is well rested rather than sleep-deprived and grouchy to remove one less impediment to long-term relationship success.

    Snoring is a common issue with middle-age men, and on guy weekends, the single rooms at a cottage are the ones in demand, with sports, sunshine, food and drink, everybody sleeps well and the noise can be heard through the walls. I bring ear plugs on these trips so I can understand the effect snoring and lack of sleep has on a marriage.

  9. says

    I tend to be the one causing the issues when there is more than one person in my bed. I love to be wrapped in the arms of another in bed at night – whether preceded by other activities or not – but I emphasize the word wrap. I tend to throw a leg around someone else. Worse than that, come allergy season in the spring, someone else may be kept awake by my sleeping – which can include rather loud snoring. Still – it is worth the try to sleep.

    One other thing a special someone needs to be willing to deal with is hockey. I am as likely to be watching hockey – even now, still – as I nod off as I am reading a book. :-)

    • BigLittleWolf says

      And there go the gender stereotypes, Nicki! (I love it. Though I’m more likely to nod off with Bravo-in-the-background… )

  10. says

    I love snuggling in bed, except I’m very sensitive to body temps so about ten minutes into body lock, I say my goodnight and turn my back on my partner. As much as I would love to fall asleep in the arms of the man of my dreams, that is just something I can’t do. In fact, I can’t fall asleep if any part of his body touches mine. Wish I could overcome that as it does seem so romantic to lay together with our bodies intertwined. But hey, he’s at least there and somehow I always sleep better when he is. Even when we’re not touching.

  11. BigLittleWolf says

    @Kitch – You crack me up! (Could you sleep in ear muffs? Maybe you could devise an adjoining room situation? It would be oh-so-continental, 19th century style.)

    @Justine – sensitive to body temperatures – absolutely. (So glad I’m not the only one.) But how lovely that you sleep better when he is there…

  12. says

    I confess to following my husband’s body wherever it may roll while we’re asleep. I’m frequently cold (we keep the heat turned very low to save what we can), and he’s a furnace. He doesn’t mind; we fall asleep snuggled like spoons — my body wrapped behind his. Occasionally he has to poke me to ask me to scoot back toward my side because as he rolls, I take up the newly vacated spot behind him to stay warm!

  13. pia louise says

    i too am a single mom and just need my space and sleep. when i was in my last relationship (post divorce) my love was an insomniac so 4getabouit – separate bedrooms may have kept us together

  14. Madelia says

    I realize now I’ve been sleeping alone for six months. It comes naturally to me, even after 20 years of marriage, because I was an only child. I don’t mind it either way. I’m usually a good sleeper unless I’m mega-stressed or the room’s too hot. I don’t like cuddling all night, though. I want to turn on my side and sleep. He couldn’t stand having feet on him, so when things were good, we slept just touching each other. A hand on a shoulder, his on the curve of my hip.

    Towards the end of my marriage, though, he was up at odd hours, and somehow in the morning it would be my fault. I kept the room too cold. I snored. I twitched. I didn’t spontaneously wake up to give sex @ 3:00am to put him to sleep. It made me nervous; I kept wanting to monitor my sleep positions, make sure I wasn’t doing something unattractive or annoying. So when the breach finally came and he went to the couch, I slept just fine, guilt-free, and I have ever since.

    That said, I don’t like my king-size bed anymore because it’s just too damn big, and I only sleep on my side of it anyway. Too much effort to crawl into the middle and crawl back out again. I want something smaller— a queen, perhaps?

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Thank you for your comment, Madelia. Strange how we grow accustomed to sleeping alone, or not. As you say, it can be more painful sleeping with someone when there was no connection than sleeping alone. And I agree – a queen is plenty of room for everything – and not so much that you feel swallowed alive by the emptiness of the bed.

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