When our lease was up last month, my boyfriend and I flirted with the idea of moving to an apartment with separate bedrooms because of our sleep incompatibility. Basically, I like to stay up reading until the wee hours but the light from my lamp makes him want to bludgeon me. We couldn't afford anything nice with two bedrooms, but according to some new studies from the U.K. — oh, and that story in last month's Elle — we're not alone with our snoozing loserdom. The National Association of Homebuilders in Britain is predicting that by 2015, the majority of custom made homes will have his and hers master bedrooms. But what about life for us plebes who can't even manage a two bedroom squat? The Times of London tries to offer some solutions for the 50% of couples who, according to the Times, wake each other up about 6 times a night.
Some of the major problems between co-sleepers include snoring, kicking, and wrestling for the covers — but on a more basic level, each person has a different body clock, and some people are morning people (called "larks" by sleep experts) and some are night people (called owls). All of this is clearly common sense, but the Times called in sleep expert Sammy Margo to give a couple called the Millards some advice on how to deal with an owly husband and a wife who is neither lark nor owl.
Mr. Millard sounds like a total neurotic who has trouble sleeping, in part, because he's always worrying about shit. Mr. Margo tells him to quit the caffeine after lunch, eat foods low on the glycemic index, gnaw on turkey, Marmite, spinach, or any other food with tryptophan in it, and take a warm bath right before bed,. Mr. Millard wanted to follow Margo's advice, but he ended up lying awake and worrying about the advice instead! (Though he did appreciate the warm bath and eating more veggies.)
But enough about those boring old marrieds. The studies quoted by the Times also show that Lezebels have the best sleep among couples. "Sleep conflicts seem to be bound up with fundamental biological and behavioural differences between the sexes," says the Times. "For example, when Professor Jim Horne, the director of the Loughborough University Sleep Research Centre, attached movement monitors to men and women sleepers, he found that men moved much more than women and were far more likely to disturb women than the other way round." Ergo, two women sleeping together wouldn't cause each other much disturbance at all.
As for me and my old man, we made some compromises that helped us not kill each other at bedtime. We got two separate comforters so we weren't warring over one and I (theoretically) agreed to a lights off at midnight policy. There's something kind of lonely about the idea of a couple sleeping apart, though I know a lot of happy couples who do it. Does it work for any of you?