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Why You Shouldn’t Sleep in the Same Bed as Your Partner

Posted 2/14/2017 by UHBlog

We can help you get a better night’s sleep.

Why You Shouldn't Sleep in the Same Bed as Your Partner

If your sleep partner’s snoring is getting under your skin, the problem may be deeper than you think. Along with many other physical and mental implications of sleep deprivation, University Hospitals research reveals that it can also prematurely age your skin and make you look old.

“A good night of quality sleep is critical,” says sleep medicine specialist Colleen Lance, MD “Insufficient sleep can reduce your ability to concentrate and properly perform your job or daily routines. It can affect your memory and mood. It can also contribute to physical problems, like weight gain and elevated cholesterol and blood sugar.”

Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems like diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency.

In 2013, researchers at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, led by Dr. Elma Baron, MD, found that poor sleepers showed increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet radiation.

According to Dr. Lance, a variety of problems – such as obstructive sleep apnea – can result in a reduction in a person’s quantity and quality of sleep. A partner’s snoring, kicking, tossing and turning – or his or her controllable behaviors, such as TV viewing – can create additional obstacles to getting enough sleep.

“As a nation, our quality of sleep has been declining with industrialization for more than 100 years,” Dr. Lance says. “Instead of maintaining natural sleep patterns where people went to bed when it was dark and woke up with the sun, people now have lights and the television on, and use computers late into the evening. The reduction in total sleep time directly impacts a person’s daytime function, particularly because the last couple hours of sleep is when you get your REM (rapid-eye movement) or dream sleep, which is when our brain catches up on its rest.”

When your spouse or partner’s nighttime habits prevent you from getting enough quality sleep, it can create an awkward situation.

Should you sleep apart?

“It’s something that a couple needs to talk about,” Dr. Lance says. “In addition to snoring or kicking, some people want the TV or an electronic device on, which is distracting to their partner’s ability to fall asleep. There is an expectation among couples that if you are together, that you are sleeping together. But there are some people who just cannot do it, and they make the decision to sleep apart.”

Ideally, she says, treatment of a partner’s snoring or other problem by a sleep specialist can keep the couple together in the bedroom.

“It’s a matter of negotiating the expectations between the two partners,” Dr. Lance says. “Sometimes it’s necessary to involve a marriage counselor or a psychologist. Solving the problem sometimes involves working with the whole family.”

Colleen Lance, MD is a sleep medicine specialist and director of the Sleep Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Lance or any other doctor online.

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