It is 2am in the morning and I am settling myself on the couch, snuggling down under a blanket, relieved to be in the quiet space of my lounge room. I do have a very comfortable bed in the next room where my husband of 25 years, sleeps blissfully unaware of my nocturnal wanders. As I hear the, now distant rumble that is the sound of his breathing aided by a sleep apnea machine, my mind wanders to the many couples I have had the privilege to know, who have confided similar scenarios.
“He/she keeps me awake all night with his snoring and takes up most of the bed” is a common complaint, frequently thrown into the conversation by a disgruntled or resentful partner who experiences their partner’s ‘under-reaction’ to be further evidence of failure to listen or acknowledge their need. As I observe this exchange, there appears to be helplessness around the issue as the partner, whose sleeping behaviour is disturbing to the other, simply shrugs, communicating unwillingness to engage in any dialogue that might explore a resolution. As a Helping Professional, I have also noticed that any proactive suggestions offered, are often met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. I wonder why such strong lethargy around an issue that is so basic to our health and well-being, not to forget the harmony of the couple relationship! Are we sometimes so ‘comfortable in our discomfort’ to the degree that we prefer it to the ‘discomfort of change’?
Rarely are complaints about sleep issues the ‘deal breaker’ in couple’s relationships however, left unaddressed, the issue becomes additional fuel with the potential to enflame an already troubled relationship. A resentful partner, already emotionally distressed by the presenting relational issue, indignantly declares ‘he/she keeps me awake all night with his snoring and takes up most of the bed’, as if to prove that the other really is the person ‘in the wrong’ in this relationship. ‘Blaming’ your partner for your lack of sleep rarely evokes an empathetic response from your partner when they hear the underlying judgement. Why not be proactive and explore strategies that will ensure a better night’s sleep for both of you. Here are 20 Ways to Improve Your Sleep:
- Exercise more
- Eat your evening meal earlier
- Reduce your caffeine intake, particularly in the afternoon
- Try a herbal tea or milk drink before going to bed
- Have a snack before going to bed to ensure you do not have an empty stomach
- Put away the wine
- Stretching prepares you for sleep
- Try Yoga
- Mediation soothes and relaxes the mind and body
- Have a warm bubble bath or a shower
- Read a good book
- Turn off the iPad in the evening and refrain from checking out Facebook or playing a game or two of Candy Crush (that could be why I couldn’t settle my mind on this particular night!)
- Discover what smell soothes you and get a candle to light each night an hour or two before you go to bed
- Keep your room dark by hiding any light sources such as electronics
- Don’t nap during the day or when you come home from work
- Ensure that you de-stress from your day and avoid working at night
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- Go to your local naturopath and discuss the possibility of a natural sleep remedy
- Find the right temperature for your bedroom and the appropriate covering for a comfortable night’s sleep
- Have a nightly routine
- Say goodnight to your partner. Determine not to go to bed with unfinished or unresolved conflict
As for my couple relationship, my husband took responsibility for his own health and well-being by going to a local Sleep Clinic and finding help for the diagnosed sleep apnea. Whilst the machine is the source of more noise, it is far better than my husband’s former snoring and sleep talking behaviour (his best performance was the night he woke himself up whilst singing his own version of Amazing Grace in full gusto) and he gets a good night’s sleep. As for me, I need to follow my own advice and turn off the iPad that frequently hooks me in! When I go to bed feeling relaxed, I notice that I fall asleep much quicker.
When all is said and done, the way that you approach this issue reveals a lot about the couple connection you have. Where a couple’s relationship is marked by respect, trust and love each of us will be concerned for the need of the other and seek to be supportive by negotiating a satisfactory resolution for both of you. That does not mean that it will be the ‘perfect’ solution for both of us but it does mean that it will be the best solution, having dealt with it together.
Are you unhappy in your couple relationship? You can learn how to cultivate a relationship marked by care and respect. Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on the specific needs of your couple relationship. If you are ready to make an appointment, you can do so by clicking on the orange icon on this page BOOK NOW and follow the prompts.